A report card on the State of the Environment has identified a range of key environmental issues for the Mid West.Release Date:
9 June 2006Details:
A report card on the State of the Environment has identified a range of key environmental issues for the Mid West.
The Environmental Protection Authority released the draft State of Environment Report for public comment on 1st June.
EPA Chairman Wally Cox said the report identified 40 of the State's most important environmental issues. The most significant issues relevant to the Mid West include climate change, introduced animals and weeds, erosion, particulates and over grazing.
Dr Cox said climate change was one of the most complex and serious challenges facing the Mid West.
"Temperatures across the State have increased (on average) by around 0.8°C since 1910 with most of this increase occurring since 1950," he said.
"The frequency and intensity of extreme events such as droughts, cyclones and floods may also change while changes in rainfall remain uncertain for the Mid West.
"Rising temperatures are likely to impact the Mid West, changing the region's biodiversity and affecting agricultural productivity, water resources and human health."
Introduced animals and weeds also represent an environmental challenge for the region.
Introduced animals such as foxes, cats, goats, rabbits, camels, and horses, compete with or harm native animals, degrade ecosystems and can affect pastoral productivity.
"Similarly, many varieties of weeds such as mesquite, Mediterranean turnip, buffel grass, Athel tree, burgrass and castor oil plant thrive in the Mid West to the detriment of native ecosystems," Dr Cox said.
Erosion of soil from the land and waterways is another major environmental issue for the region.
"In some parts, up to 30 tonnes of soil can be eroded from an area the size of a football field each year," Dr Cox said.
"Clearing of native vegetation, overgrazing, cultivation of land, fires, mining activity and earthworks can all contribute to soil erosion.
"This may pose problems in waterways where large quantities of soil are transported causing downstream flooding and smothering aquatic animals and vegetation."
Eroded soil can also contribute to airborne particulates - another important issue identified for the Mid West.
"Particulates are produced from fine soil eroded by the wind, fires and industrial processes," Dr Cox said.
"Fine particulates often lead to respiratory illnesses and increased hospitalisation rates in badly affected communities".
Overgrazing is another significant issue.
"Prolonged drought in the Gascoyne and Murchison regions has made it particularly vulnerable to overgrazing and land degradation," Dr Cox said.
"However, positive initiatives are underway to make sure sustainable pastoral grazing practices are being used."
Dr Cox said a number of environmental problems could be overcome if all levels of government, industry, business and the community worked together towards long-term targets.
Community briefings on the findings of the draft report are being held at the following locations:
- Geraldton, Monday 26 June (7.30 - 8.30pm), Conversations by Indigo, 65 Bayly St
- Carnarvon, Monday 10 July (7.30 - 8.30pm), Best Western Inn, West St
The draft report is available at www.soe.wa.gov.au and the public comment period closes on September 29 2006.
Media contact: Brad Jakowyna 0427 387 516Status: