Thursday, January 17, 2013

Valuable & Threatened Broome Botanical Society Research Released

16th January 2013

Broome Botanical Society has worked with Environs Kimberley to release important research about one of the Kimberley's most threatened ecosystems; Monsoon Vine Thickets of the Dampier Peninsula. The Federal Government is currently deciding whether or not to list this culturally significant and environmentally important ecosystem as Nationally Endangered under the EPBC Act (1999).

"Extensive surveys of the Monsoon Vine Thickets (MVT's) were conducted by the Broome Botanical Society (BBS) in partnership with the DEC, between 2000 and 2002. Before this, almost no scientific surveys of  Peninsula MVT's had been published, and no-one knew how many patches of thickets there were, or how large an area they covered." Principal Author of the scientific report, Sally Black said.

The scientific report;  "A comprehensive survey of the flora, extent and condition of vine thickets on coastal sand dunes of Dampier Peninsula, West Kimberley 2000-2002" was conducted on a volunteer basis, with Environs Kimberley supporting its completion in 2010.

"Through the West Kimberley Nature Project, we've now supported BBS to publicly release their findings, by way of a colourful, plain-English booklet, outlining values, threats and conservation priorities " Environs Kimberley Projects Coordinator, Louise Beames said.

"Found in small patches, most commonly 10ha,  or in long,  narrow strands, MVT's, which make up less than one tenth of one percent of the Dampier Peninsula, are easily damaged. Major threats identified were weeds, fire, clearing, off-road 4 wheel driving and camping, feral and domestic animals, and development."  said David Dureau, Broome Botanical Society President.

"When analysed, we found four distinct MVT groupings. Illustrations from local artist Jeanné Browne detail the composition and form of these groups"  said Tim Willing of the Broome Botanical Society.

"Containing 151 plant species, almost a quarter of all Peninsula plants, this coastal rainforest ecosystem is an important refuge for birds, bats and other animals. MVT's work as an ecological network with the loss of a single patch affecting all other patches. Conservation and management must treat the network as a whole in order to keep them connected"  Ms Black said

"We identified priority conservation management actions, further studies required and listed priority conservation species including, Declared Rare Flora - Pittosporum moluccanum  which, restricted to two sites on the Peninsula could become locally extinct if not conserved" Mr Willing said.

"Six unusually large MVT patches were identified as high conservation priorities and together, represent all four MVT groupings. These are: Patch 5 from Quondong to James Price Point; Patch 20 & 22 within the proposed Borda Nature Reserve, Patch 39 near Riddel Point/Mission Bay and Patch 47 & 71 at One Arm Point and Gallen." Ms Black said.

"Throughout the world,  rainforests, our biologically richest ecosystems, are under serious threat and the Dampier Peninsula MVT's  are no different. This information establishes a baseline for future study and emphasises how little we know.  The government should now be investing in substantial surveys of MVT's, working to protect rainforest networks and keeping them connected and viable." Mr Dureau said.

Copies of the booklet are available at the Bardi Jawi Ranger base in One Arm Point, the Nyul Nyul Ranger base in Beagle Bay, the EK Market Stall. They are also available online, and on loan at the Broome Library,  A community presentation about the findings is planned for early 2013.


  1. That gutless bastard Collier.

    The report on this travesty aired on GWN news tonight and Phillip Roe was very impressive.

    At the end of the report it said,"...Collier is on holiday but in a statement he said,"I was only following the advice of my department".

    What a gutless bastard.

  2. Fish in hot water as climate changes

    As the planet continues its warming trend, climate scientists say whole marine ecosystems are also feeling the heat.

    The east coast of Australia is now considered one of the fastest warming areas in the region.

    The CSIRO says fish are moving south in search of cooler waters, and marine heatwaves like the recent one off Western Australia are likely to cause major damage to corals and fisheries.

    Scientists also warn climate change is now considered the single greatest threat to the long-term survival of the Great Barrier Reef.


    Alistair Hobday from the CSIRO expects oceans to keep getting warmer in the coming years.

    "The background rate of ocean warming has been about 0.7 of a degree over the last 100 years," he said.

    "We've seen warming on the east coast of Australia a bit over 2 degrees in that same period of time.

    "And we expect that warming to continue for the next 40 to 50 years, so in about the year 2050 it'll be around 2 degrees warmer than it is today."

    The CSIRO says fish and other marine creatures are heading south in search of cooler waters.

    "Overall another 45 fish species have moved into Tasmania's waters as a result of this warming - that's about a third to a quarter of the total fish in this region," Mr Hobday said.

    "We've also seen changes in inter-tidal animals - about 50 per cent of snails and limpets have moved further south in a 50-year period.

    "There's been coastal fish move south, a sea urchin has also moved further south. So we're seeing these changes through the ecosystem."

    While it creates new fisheries, there are also downsides.

    Scientists are monitoring marine heatwaves.

    One was recorded off Western Australia, with ocean temperatures 5 degrees above average over two weeks.

    While it cannot be directly linked to climate change, Mr Hobday says events like these may become more frequent.

    "We expect those warm events to become more common in the ocean, but this is the most dramatic one we've observed in human history," he said.

    As the oceans warm, corals also struggle.

    The Commonwealth says there were no records of bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef before 1979.

    Since then there have been at least nine episodes, of which three are considered major.

    Russell Reichelt, the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, says climate change poses a big threat to the reef.

    "Global warming on the ocean temperature is variable around the world, but not withstanding it's the single greatest threat to the long-term future of the Great Barrier Reef," he said.

    "So climate change, global warming, which leads to mass coral bleaching, is my most serious concern for the future health of the reef."


    The madness of all the coal export ports along the East Coast - what an insane picture that paints.

  3. Officials in Indonesia say at least five people have been killed in heavy flooding in the capital Jakarta.

    Authorities have already declared a state of emergency as they warn monsoonal rain will worsen in the next few days.

    Rivers have broken their banks, flood gates and canals and have gone over capacity and the constant downpours are causing flash floods to add to the problem.

    Yesterday the city centre flooded for the first time anyone can remember, causing chaos in Indonesia's business hub.

    Two cleaners were found drowned in the basement of a shopping centre, bringing the total death toll to five.

    More than 20,000 people have been evacuated and many residents agree the flood is bigger than any they have seen in decades.

    The last big flood in 2007 left hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

    "It's worse than 2007," said local Rinaldi Napitupulu, who has lived in Jakarta for 48 years.

    Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took to a rubber boat yesterday to inspect the damage.

    Even his palace was not spared as rising waters inundated the central business district.

  4. Climate danger for the Amazon.

    The US space agency Nasa warned this week that the Amazon rainforest may be showing the first signs of large-scale degradation due to climate change.

    A team of scientists led by the agency found that an area twice the size of California continues to suffer from a mega-drought that began eight years ago.

    The new study shows the severe dry spell in 2005 caused far wider damage than previously estimated and its impact persisted longer than expected until an even harsher drought in 2010.

    With little time for the trees to recover between what the authors describe as a "double whammy", 70m hectares of forest have been severely affected, the analysis of 10 years of satellite microwave radar data revealed.

    The data showed a widespread change in the canopy due to the dieback of branches, especially among the older, larger trees that are most vulnerable because they provide the shelter for other vegetation.

    "We had expected the forest canopy to bounce back after a year with a new flush of leaf growth, but the damage appeared to persist right up to the subsequent drought in 2010," said study co-author Yadvinder Malhi of Oxford University.

    The Amazon is experiencing a drought rate that is unprecedented in a century, said the agency. Even before 2005, water availability had been shrinking steadily for more than 10 years, which made the trees more vulnerable. Between 2005 and 2010, localised dry spells added to the problem.

    The leader of the research team, Sassan Saatchi of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said forests will find it increasingly difficult to recover if climate change makes droughts more frequent and severe.

    "This may alter the structure and function of Amazonian rainforest ecosystems," he warned.

    Nasa has been monitoring the Amazon for more than 40 years. Images it released last year showed the dramatic impacts of man-made deforestation over that period.

    Although the speed of forest clearance has slowed, the Amazon continues to shrink in area. The latest study suggests the quality as well as the quantity of forest is declining due to extreme climate conditions.