Biosphere Implementation Group (BIG)

A Biosphere Implementation Group (BIG) was officially formed in August at the Fitzgerald Hall to steer the relisting of the Fitzgerald Biosphere with UNESCO. This Group is made up of representatives from:

  1. Shire of Ravensthorpe
  2. Shire of Jerramungup
  3. Friends of Fitzgerald River National Park
  4. Fitzgerald Biosphere Group
  5. Ravensthorpe Agriculture Initiative Network
  6. Department of Environment and Conservation
  7. South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council

With wider supportive stakeholder groups i.e regional, state and national to be kept informed of the progress and notification of meetings, as their support is welcomed.

This group’s primary role is to:

  • Provide a platform for the retention of the Biosphere listing.
  • Develop an action plan
  • Oversee publicity, awareness and promotional activities to further engage the community to the biosphere listing and status.
  • Guide activities funded through South Coast NRM Inc through the Federal Government’s Caring for Our Country program to ensure the renomination.

Governance and Terms of reference for the group are to be aligned with those for UNESCO. The primary action for the retention of the Biosphere listing is to address the 2003 review recommendations whish are:

  1. Formally recognize a buffer zone and a transition area in the areas where the local Landcare group of farmers and landowners were currently working in cooperation with the National Park administration
  2. Consider extending the marine component, so that the whole biosphere reserve would serve to illustrate the Ecosystem Approach for the entire Fitzgerald River catchment basin
  3. Provide more information on the success of measures to rehabilitate degraded lands in the areas corresponding to the potential future transition area.

In October the group hosted a workshop at the Jerramungup CRC to begin addressing the formalization of boundaries and zones within the biosphere, including marine. The workshop was facilitated by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA Regional Director, Steve Porritt, who guided the groups through the process of considering all aspects of the boundaries, whether they are social, ecological or geographical. A “sense of place” was a key determining factor in determining where realignment might occur.

At this point potential extensions to include the communities of Wellstead, remaining section of the Ravensthorpe Shire and Lake Magenta Reserve have been identified as realistic. Biosphere reserves are areas where people interact with nature, such as sustainable industry and development and recreation. Any extension to include other community populations will be looked on favourably. Further consultation with these communities and local governments will be undertaken in these areas of potential extension and indigenous representation.

A marine component was discussed at length with an outcome on hold whilst the South Coast Draft Marine Strategic Plan is still under consideration by the State Minister. For more information contact any of the above groups.