Bushland battle

IN this week’s THINKING ALLOWED Greens north metro MLC ALISON XAMON argues that we need more environmental protection for WA’s bushland, with Lemnos Street Bush in Shenton Park the latest area to come under threat.

WE live in one of the original 25 global biodiversity hotspots—a term which recognises the uniqueness and diversity of Western Australian flora.

It also recognises that, sadly, too much of it has already been lost.

Today, there is very little bush left on the Swan Coastal Plain. What was once covered with dense bushland has been slowly chipped away.

Lemnos Street Bush at the old Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital is one of very few remaining in the Metropolitan area. It is under threat.

It is under threat because planning for the site, for the proposed Montario Quarter development, has failed to take into consideration the environmental importance of the remaining bushland.

• Areas of Shenton Park Bushland are being bulldozed. Photos by Steve Grant

Trees have been felled at the eastern side of the site. But as yet, the bushland itself remains intact.

The site is largely Banksia woodland, which in 2016 was listed as a Threatened Ecological Community under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

It also contains more than 100 of the declared rare Jacksonia sericea or waldjumi shrubs.

It links two Bush Forever sites, the Underwood Avenue Bushland and the Shenton Park Bushland. Those areas, in turn, form an essential part of the ecological link between Kings Park and Bold Park.

These patches of bush are important feeding ground for our threatened black cockatoos, which are known to roost at the University of Western Australia sports grounds, Underwood Avenue Bushland and Perry Lakes.

And yet, a clearing permit application currently before the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation seeks to remove 1.52ha of bush—or 50 per cent of the site.

Nobody wants that.

The site’s ecological importance is recognised by the Environmental Protection Authority and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

And while the Greens, the City of Subiaco and the community all support redeveloping the site, the remaining bushland and its value as an ecological linkage must be maintained and protected. It could be a win-win situation.

The community clearly feels very strongly about this.

More than 1000 West Australians took the time to make submissions to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation as part of the clearing permit application process currently underway.

I unveiled through questions in Parliament that 1,001 opposed clearing at the Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital site. NONE supported it.

So why, despite our bushlands’ international significance, are we still failing to protect what little there is left? We need to show the same forethought shown by the people who established environmental treasures such as Bold Park.

I am calling on the environmental regulator to reject the clearing proposals currently before it. And I am calling on the government to live up to its commitment to protect the environment.

We can ensure we are protecting our remnant bushland at the same time as we are creating liveable, vibrant cities.

All it takes it a little bit of foresight.

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