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Ecologist reignites push to better protect wetlands on salt mine lease

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Ecologist reignites push to better protect wetlands on salt mine lease

The ocean seeps out of the bottom 17 kilometres inland from the southern Ningaloo shoreline to create small items of the ocean in an in any other case arid desert. 

Brine fills a number of swimming pools often known as the Northern Ponds on the prime of Lake Macleod, a large 2,000 sq. kilometre salt lake.

The water sustains the world’s largest instance of an inland mangrove system full with estuarine fish species and the odd report of a mangrove jack.

The distinctive hydrogeological web site is considered one of Australia’s most important for migratory shorebirds.

Whereas it was as soon as thought-about for World Heritage Itemizing, it presently exists in obscurity on a salt mining lease managed by Rio Tinto.

However ecologist Pierre Horowitz mentioned that ought to change with a view that every one lake stakeholders ought to get behind a renewed bid to have the ponds, which cowl 382 sq. kilometres, listed as a world wetland of significance beneath the United Nations’ Ramsar conference.

Fish dwell in a everlasting pool at Lake Macleod.()

The Edith Cowan College environmental research professor mentioned whereas there was an analogous phenomenon occurring at Lake Eyre in South Australia and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, the Northern Ponds have been distinctive and warranted additional safety.

“I feel individuals are a bit bit cautious of worldwide mechanisms as a result of they could impose extra obligations on land use,” Professor Horwitz mentioned.

“However I feel the advantages and the benefits of worldwide recognition as Ningaloo, exhibits, and because the Shark Bay World Heritage space, exhibits.”

Push for recognition

A map exhibits the boundaries for a proposed RAMSAR itemizing of the Northern Ponds.()

There was a push about twenty years in the past to recognise the Ningaloo Reef as a World Heritage Web site which was finally profitable in 2010.

The Exmouth Gulf, Tough Vary and Lake Macleod, which is adjoining to the southern finish of the reef, have been all included within the authentic examine space for itemizing consideration.

All three would fall out of the submission and in Lake Macleod’s case, Rio Tinto, by way of its subsidiary Dampier Salt, began a push to as an alternative have the Northern Ponds Ramsar-listed about 2009.

Dampier Salt runs the salt and gypsum mining operations at Lake Macleod, which fall beneath a mining lease overlaying practically all the lake, topic to a state settlement with WA signed in 1967.

The corporate’s most important operations are restricted to the underside finish of the lake the place salt accumulates.

Salt is processed at Dampier Salt’s operations.()

With out broad consensus amongst lake stakeholders for Ramsar, the state authorities wouldn’t put the location as much as federal authorities for nomination.

A administration advisory group was fashioned within the aftermath of there being no Ramsar itemizing to type a draft plan for taking good care of the Northern Ponds.

Lake Macleod is about 30 kilometres north of Carnarvon.()

There may be presently no involvement from WA’s Division of Biodiversity, Conservation and Points of interest into the pond administration which comes beneath Rio Tinto.

A Rio Tinto spokeswoman mentioned the corporate was working to make sure the preservation of the ecological worth of the Northern Ponds.

“A biodiversity safety and pure useful resource administration commonplace is in place and seeks to minimise our influence; our first precedence is to keep away from having an influence, after which we search to minimise, restore, and at last offset impacts,” she mentioned.

Safety sought

Gnaraloo Station pastoral lease holder Paul Richards, whose property covers one of many most important entry roads to the ponds, mentioned he banned visiting vacationers from accessing them.

He mentioned unmanaged visitation was the largest threat to the location and didn’t promote the lake to assist protect its environmental worth.

“Regardless that it is on our boundary … we do not put it up for sale,” Mr Richards mentioned.

Pelicans land on the water at Lake Macleod.()

Mr Richards tried to ascertain a birdwatching web site on the Gnaraloo lease, which might have required customers to dob in anybody doing the flawed factor on the lake to handle visitation to the ponds, however the concept didn’t acquire sufficient assist to get off the bottom.

Gnaraloo Wilderness Basis chair Karen Hattingh mentioned the case to have the Northern Ponds on the World Heritage Listing or Ramsar was as legitimate right this moment because it was greater than a decade in the past.

“The administration shouldn’t be in place to cope with uncontrolled visitation,” she mentioned.

“That basically damages the algal mats and it is not an space for water sports activities, exploration or kayaking or swimming or diving.”

Lake Macleod is dwelling to the world’s largest meeting of inland mangroves.()

Ms Hattingh mentioned regardless that the southern finish of the Ningaloo Reef was on the World Heritage record, the broad space didn’t get sufficient conservation assist in comparison with across the city of Exmouth.

Professor Horwitz mentioned there was a powerful will to have Lake Macleod Ramsar-listed and mentioned a renewed push wanted to start out with consulting Conventional Homeowners.

“And the pastoralists are vital and the mining firm who personal the lease is vital in that stakeholder engagement and stakeholder acceptance that that form of recognition must go forward,” he mentioned.

For extra on this story watch Ningaloo Nyinggulu on ABC TV and ABC iview.

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