THE Blackwood Basin Group (BBG) has been successful in attaining a grant to create a wetland haven at Schwenkes Dam, Greenbushes, to attract critically endangered waterbirds to the site.
The four-year Priority Bittern and Waterbird Biodiversity Enhancement Project was one of only four successful proposals in WA under the Federal Government's Biodiversity Fund Program.
The project will be run in partnership with Talison Lithium and the De partment of Parks and Wildlife, with input from a number of agencies, local government and community groups.
As a historical mining pit, Schwenkes dam is steep-sided and deep. As a source of freshwater with little flow in or out, the BBG saw a unique opportunity to design and create a water bird haven by re-designing the water body to create drainage channels and interconnected beaches, mud flats and areas specific to the specialised habitat requirements of target species.
These areas will then be planted with appropriate endemic species of rushes, sedges and melaleucas to create suitable habitat and nesting sites.
The project's focus is on increasing populations of the endangered bittern species; Australasian bittern, black bittern and little bittern; and Forest black cockatoo species; Carnaby's cockatoo, Forest red-tailed black cockatoo and Baudin's black cockatoo.
Protecting these species is of national significance due to evidence of their declining numbers from habitat destruction, urbanisation, wetland drainage and rising salinity.
Project activities to enhance the wetland and forest habitat, control weeds and feral animals, and erect nest boxes will improve the success of establishing new fauna populations, particularly the target nationally significant species.
In addition to working closely with project partners, community engagement is integral to the long-term project success.
Community members will have the opportunity to get involved in surveying bird life and flora, identifying macro-invertebrates, planting days, erection and monitoring of cockatoo nest boxes, as well as a variety of field days and information workshops that will be run throughout the project.
"This unique project forms part of a long-term vision to establish a large-scale wetland system in the Greenbushes area" BBG project officer Sara Dulex said.
"By providing such a vital freshwater refuge, we hope to not only attract and protect species of endangered, nationally significant bird life, but also create opportunities to further promote the area for passive recreation pursuits such as bird watching and hiking."