Why Conserve Underwood for Future Generations

 

‘It is totally unacceptable that any of this site be developed. Perth is now recognised as unique in the world for its biodiversity.’

Urban Bushland Council WA


 

‘From the evidence contained in the EPA’s report, one can only conclude that the environmental values are so high that the entire area must be protected’. ‘The area of urban bushland in Underwood Avenue should not be developed because of its very high, intrinsic environmental values.’

Bernie Masters, Hansard 27 March 2002


 ‘That flock [of Carnaby’s Cockatoos] around the University of WA grounds in Underwood Avenue there is the last surviving flock in the western suburbs of Perth.’ ‘Now if you just continue to degrade and reduce the amount of available foraging habitat you will lose that flock.’

Ron Johnstone, Curator of Ornithology, WA Museum 4 January 2012.

 

The retention of the Bushland and the critical habitat it provides for two nationally threatened black cockatoos offers a gift of immeasurable value for future generations of West Australians. It would be a legacy and an act of philanthropy fitting for a prestigious and world-renowned university.

Birdlife Western Australia 2014

 

  1. Introduction

The Friends of Underwood Avenue Bushland Inc (FUAB) was formed in 1998 to protect Underwood Avenue Bushland in Shenton Park from a housing development proposal put by the University of Western Australia (UWA).

 

UWA first set out to gain approval for its proposed housing development in 1999. Efforts to gain approval have continued over seventeen years with modifications made over years. The development has not been able to proceed due to the bushland’s significant environmental value and Federal legislation protecting species of significance to the nation.

 

In 2014 this bushland remains as a magnificent jarrah, tuart and banksia woodland of significance within the urban heart of Perth.

 

It is a treasure which must be protected forever for the people of Western Australia. As a ‘Bush Forever Site’ it is inconceivable that such a valuable potential community and biological asset should be turned into real estate.

 

‘By implementing Bush Forever we can achieve the aim of “Keeping the Bush in the City”, and continue to create a city that is the envy of the rest of the world.’ Bush Forever 2000

 

This document sets out the case for having the bushland protected and aims to demonstrate the high level of public interest and community support for it being placed into the State Conservation Estate.

 

The gift of the bushland to the state would be a lasting legacy and an act of philanthropy fitting for a world-renowned university.

 

Alternatively, a way must be found to offer the University some compensation for withdrawing their proposal for development of the bushland.

 

The Hon Julie Bishop proposed a land swap with underused Department of Defence land. This land is mainly cleared land close to public transport. However the officer for the Minister for Defence, stated that the land was needed.

 

Now in 2016, with the release of the Draft Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million, Underwood is suddenly more severely threatened, because of its zoning of urban. Public comment is being called for until 13 May 2016.

 

  1. VISION
 To protect Underwood Avenue Bushland forever, as a special place and critical link between Kings Park and Bold Park.

 

There is overwhelming strong public support for protecting the bushland. What do we suggest?

 

Underwood Research and Teaching Centre

 

The bushland will be used for research, for education and for recreation.

 

No clearing of bushland will take place.

 

Already the bushland is used for research by institutions such as the University of Western Australia and the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority. The result of this research will have far reaching implications on the understanding of key processes that maintain the biodiversity of Western Australia.

 

In conjunction with the University of Western Australia we are prepared to consider helping to raise $10 million through community engagement.

 

Public access

The bushland will have public assess through the Whadjut walking trail, which runs from Kings Park to Grant Marine Park. Knowledge of Noongar history in the bushland and in the wider area will be recognised, valued and taught.

 

The spectacular wildlife experience for visitors will be awesome when black cockatoos are present and wonderful in any event.

 

Protection of the bushland will be a lasting legacy fitting for our community, our University, our state and for our nation.

 

 

  1. The 2014 Great Cocky Count

The annual Great Cocky Count by Birdlife Australia was carried out in April 2014.

 

This is a community-based survey for Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos and Forest Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos (FRTBC). The report was released on 25 August 2014 and is available at www.birdlife.org.au.

 

Volunteer participation for the Great Cocky Count likely exceeded 700 community members.

 

Key points from the GCC are:

  • ‘The minimum population count for Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos in the Greater Perth-Peel Region 2014 was 7154.’
  • The Underwood Avenue roosting site is one of the ten largest and most important sites for Carnaby’s Cockatoos. Another major roost site is Hollywood Hospital monitored for over 30 years by Paddy Berry.

 

‘Trend analysis of roost counts for Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos in the Perth-Peel Coastal Plain found declines in the fraction of occupied roosts and declines of flock size over the last five years (2010-2014)’.

 

There has been an estimated current rate of decline in the total number of Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos on the Perth-Peel Coastal Plain of 15% per year.

 

Such a rapid decline may manifest in the loss of flocks associated with particular roosts and, if this trend continues, it is of serious concern for Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos in the Perth-Peel Coastal Plain.’(2014 GCC p 28) If Underwood Avenue Bushland is given approval to be developed for housing we will lose the flock which roosts near Perry Lakes.

 

Unless there are major changes to protect and increase the habitat of Carnaby’s Cockatoos these iconic birds of Perth are predicted to be extinct within 15 to 20 years.

 

“We can reverse the decline of Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos in Perth and help this species recover — but we need both the State and Federal Governments to take urgent action to address the alarming amount of habitat being destroyed.” (Birdlife).

 

In response to the release of the 2014 Great Cocky Count the Minister for the Environment, Albert Jacob, was reported as saying:

 

The decline in the number of Carnaby’s cockatoos in the Perth metropolitan area was a cause of concern. However a number of factors could be driving this, including drought, car strike and clearing of pines. This is a highly mobile species, occurring over a large area of the South West, so we don’t know whether the birds are utilising other habitat and resources that were not surveyed. (ABC online Report by Nicolas Perpitch)

 

The Minister and the Department of the Environment have a responsibility to protect biodiversity. We urge the Minister to demonstrate leadership and to proclaim what will be done to protect black cockatoos from extinction.

 

2015 Great Cocky Count

 

The decline of Carnaby’s cockatoo continued as the 2015 GCC results indicated. ‘Carnaby’s are a big casualty of urban sprawl’, reported Perth Now. ‘The report found the Gnangara pine plantation held the largest concentration (46%) of black-cockatoos in the survey area, but it is scheduled to be cleared by 2030.’ ‘If the current trend continues, the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo population of the Perth-Peel Coastal Plain will continue to decline at a rate of roughly 15 per cent each year,” BirdLife Australia’s Tegan Douglas said.

 

Green Growth Plan

 

The release of the 3,000 page draft Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million, just before Christmas 2015, revealed that the state acknowledged that Carnaby’s cockatoo will decline by a further 50% as the whole of the pine plantation of 24,400 hectares is cleared over the next ten years. Together with clearing of 12,644 ha of habitat on the Swan Coastal Plain of which 9,558 ha is high quality cockatoo habitat, the state government is prepared for the loss and possibly to extinction of this species. The plan states ‘there will be a loss of habitat associated with the classes of action and the scale of this loss is considered significant within the context of a species in decline.’ (Part D Chapter 15.19)

 

In parliament the Minister for Environment said ‘Of course there will be and impact.’

 

  1. Background and History

 

4.1 UWA Endowment

 

In 1904, 614 acres (258 hectares) of land, which included what is now known as Underwood Avenue Bushland, was vested to the trustees of the University of Western Australia Endowment by the government of the day. Around that time the University trustees were endowed with 1400 hectares of land. The Underwood Avenue grant covered 64.3 hectares.

 

The Universities Endowment Act 1904 was repealed by the Universities Legislation Amendment Act 2000, assented to on 7/12/2000 by parliament, allowed Universities to sell land or to develop it and to use the funds for investment rather than as previously, having to reinvest in land or buildings.

 

The original grant transcribed from the handwritten 1904 document is at Appendix 3.

 

4.2 Advice given to UWA on how to proceed

 

Advice was given (26 June 1998) to UWA consultants Chappell and Lambert by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure about how to proceed with the UWA development proposal so that the site would not need formal assessment……that is that the proposal not be put until after the Bush Plan was endorsed by cabinet:

 

It is 99% certain that they [DEP] would require a formal assessment of the site with the aim of protecting all the bushland. This could result in a Burns Beach type outcome where no development was permitted’. [letter from Everett Lambert obtained under FOI]

 

UWA initiated its housing development proposal in 1999 with an application to develop 260 lots.

 

Since 1999 UWA has continued trying to gain approval for its proposed development and has modified its initial proposal more than once. State approval for the development was granted by Minister Faragher in July 2010.

 

4.3 City of Nedlands 2001, 2009, 2010

 

8 May 2001: the City of Nedlands Council resolved that:

 

  1. a) Council writes to the Ministry for Planning and its Bush Forever Office advising that it opposes the BF recommendation not to reserve the full extent of the native bushland with in Site 119 (Lot 4 Underwood Ave)
  2. b) The Min for Planning be requested, in relation to BF site 119, to consider a land exchange in order to increase the area of bushland protected.’
  • December 2009: The City of Nedlands voted that the bushland should not be developed. The City’s position was that the bushland remain as bushland.

 

  • 6 March 2010: Vice-chancellor UWA, Alan Robson and senior UWA personnel met councillors and council staff privately with a presentation on the UWA proposal.

 

  • 7 April 2010: The consideration of the UWA proposal for Underwood Avenue Bushland as written on the City of Nedlands agenda was changed at the meeting, the motion to approve the UWA proposal was put without opportunity for discussion and passed. The action was described as a backflip by the press.

 

 

4.4 Extract from The Hon Colin Barnett’s speech 2002 and letter 2008

 

As Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal Party and as the member for Cottesloe, I emphasise that housing should never be built on this site. It is too close to the Waste Water Treatment Plant. I am not against housing development in the area. Over the past decade an enormous amount of housing has been developed in my electorate. However, this area is too close to the waste water treatment plant and too sensitive to its effects to be suitable for housing development. It would be a misguided outcome even if the parties were to agree on an area for housing development. The bushland must be preserved. A commercial agreement should be reached in which the Water Corporation pays the University of Western Australia a little over $10 million……..It is not about politics’.

 

4.5 Extract from Hansard 27 March 2002

Extract from Mr Barnett’s letter

Prior to becoming Premier, Mr Barnett, as the Member for Cottesloe, had suggested in a letter, 28 May, 2008, that the then state Labor Government:

negotiate with UWA, with a view to acquiring the site and paying reasonable compensation. A close precedent to this would be in the mid 1990’s when land owned by the Bond Corporation was purchased to form part of an enlarged Bold Park………..I ask that you consider the preservation of this area in its entirety.’

 

4.6 UWA Housing Proposal

The following is extracted from the UWA 2014 Website:

In 1904, the State Government granted The University of Western Australia approximately 63.4 hectares of land in Underwood Avenue, Shenton Park, with the specific intention that the University develop and sell the land to fund the University’s educational activities.

Since 1998 the University has been actively endeavouring to gain planning and environmental approval in order to fulfil this endowment obligation set by State Parliament.

 

Proposed development and conservation

On the eastern portion of this site the University is proposing to:

  • develop a residential estate of approximately 12 hectares;
  • create a continuous conservation area of approximately 14 hectares; and
  • create public open space of approximately 3 hectares.

 

The purpose of the development is to release capital to the University’s Endowment. Any capital will be invested and the interest applied to the education of the Western Australian community.

 

The remaining area is affected by odour from the Subiaco Wastewater Treatment Plant.  This area will continue to be used for University purposes and is set aside for future development.  This area will remain vegetated pending the clarification of the development and land use potentials of this land with relevant planning authorities.

 

The western portion of the site is used as part of the University Field Research Station, which forms a critical part of the University’s operations.

 

Conservation

 

The highest quality bushland will be retained for conservation, passive recreation and habitat corridors with a view to protect the native flora, vegetation and fauna values on the site.

 

Residential development and zoning

 

The residential area will be developed to create single residential lots in addition to grouped housing sites, with a total of approximately 300 dwellings.

 

4.6 Statements in the Draft Recommendation Report Department of the Environment, Water Heritage and the Arts. EPBC2007/3386

 

“Recommendation

That approval not be given for the proposal by the University of Western Australia to develop the eastern portion of Lot 4 Underwood Avenue, Shenton Park, WA for residential purposes (EPBC 2007/3386) under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999”.

 

“The proponent [UWA] stated that the loss of 23 hectares to be cleared in that proposal was not significant given the amount of foraging habitat available in the region. The delegate [Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts assessor] determined that the loss of 23 hectares of foraging habitat and potential breeding habitat was a large ‘incremental loss’ and the consequences of this for the Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo would be significant and required further assessment”.

 

“Ecologically sustainable development”

 

“…the Minister must take into account the principles of ecologically sustainable development (set out in Section 3A of the EPBC Act)

 

  • the integration principle

….the Department concludes that the environmental outcomes are not acceptable

 

  • the precautionary principle

…The assessment process indicates that there is sufficient evidence and certainty that adverse impacts will occur to the species {Carnaby’s Cockatoo] that utilise the area if the proposed action goes ahead.

 

  • The intergenerational principle

…this development will not contribute to a healthy and diverse environment for future generations.

 

  • The biodiversity principle

…the Department concludes that the conservation of biological diversity was a fundamental consideration of the proposal, and the proposal would result in a loss of habitat that could indirectly contribute to an overall loss of biodiversity that supports listed threatened species.

 

  • The valuation principle

The impacts of the proposed action have been adequately identified and the environmental costs of the project fully evaluated.”

The Department does not consider that the proposed development is fully consistent with the principles of ESD.

 

  1. Biological and Conservation Values

 

5.1 Bush Forever

Bush Forever is the public policy framework formulated in 2000 that aims to protect the biodiversity of 51,000 ha of bushland representing the 26 vegetation complexes of the Swan Coastal Plain portion of the Perth Metropolitan Region.

 

Underwood Avenue Bushland is Bush Forever Site 119. Its inclusion as a Bush Forever site was because it met the rigorous Selection Criteria set by the EPA and the inclusion was supported by the nine government agencies involved in the process. These criteria include size, shape and adequate representation of ecological communities.

 

Because the bushland is privately owned the outcome was to be negotiated: a negotiated planning solution. However this was never achieved. The whole area of Lot 4 is shown as Bush Forever on government planning maps.

 

The policy of Bush Forever was to set aside at least 10% of each bushland site. Only around 6% of the vegetation type, Karrakatta Complex-Central and South, which is the vegetation type of Underwood Avenue Bushland, is protected. The federal department of the Environment and the EPA have stated that 30% of each vegetation type is necessary to preserve biodiversity.

 

EPA Guidance policy Number 10

In Guidance Policy 10 endorsed by the Western Australian cabinet it is stated:

‘There will be a general presumption against clearing bushland containing threatened ecological communities or representation of vegetation complexes of which less than 10 per cent currently remain on the Swan coastal plain portion of the Perth metropolitan region’.

 

Guidance for the Assessment of Environmental Factors, Number 10, June 2006 EPA.

The floral biodiversity of the Swan Coastal Plain is of international importance.

Government of Western Australia: Department of Environment Regulation.

 

5.2 Biodiversity

The bushland contains a wide diversity of vegetation having eight structural units. The diversity within the bushland endures because of the comparatively large size of the bushland, because of the variety of vegetation communities and because of the link between Bold Park and Kings Park through Shenton Bushland.

 

Compared with most other remnants of this vegetation complex, the Underwood Avenue Bushland is comparatively large and diverse’. (EPA May 2003)

 

Plants

More than 228 vascular plant species are listed from the bushland.

 

  • Jarrah: The Jarrah woodland is some of the best in the Perth Metropolitan Area and it differs significantly from comparable jarrah low woodlands in Bold Park, Shenton Bushland and Kings Park.’ (Arthur Weston botanist).

 

Areas of vegetation with an overstorey of Eucalyptus marginata are uncommon in the Spearwood Dunes’ (EPA May 2006). The overstorey is dense: much more closed than in Shenton Bushland.

 

  • Tuart: The conservation of remaining Tuarts is now considered a priority.

 

  • Banksia woodlands: Banksia woodlands are under consideration by the Federal Government as a threatened ecological community under the category ‘endangered’. The decision will be made by the end of 2014. Banksia woodlands are ancient and irreplaceable

 

  • Banksia prionotes: ‘The large stand of Banksia prionotes dominated vegetation is very uncommon in the Perth Metropolitan Region.’ Malcolm Trudgen, consulting botanist.

 

  • Grass trees: Huge old grass trees are a feature of the bushland.

 

  • Jacksonia sericea is listed as ‘Significant Flora’, priority 4. Under the IUCN Red List the species is listed as ‘Endangered’ because of its restricted range and it is only known to occur in the woodlands of the suburbs of Perth.

 

  • Orchids; 25 species of orchid have been recorded in the bushland. Several plants of the Leopard Orchid, Thelymitra fuscolutea, flowered in the bushland 13 November 2011. Andrew Brown, Species and Community Branch DPaW stated that this species ‘is rare in the Perth Region although it is known from scattered locations as far north as Lancelin. Great find.’

 

Fungi

 

Fungi are protected biodiversity in Western Australia. No one really knows how many fungi we have. There are probably at least 10 times more species of fungi than plants in the world. Many native plants such as eucalypts, wattles and orchids have symbiotic mycorrhizal partnerships with fungi.

 

Fungi of the Perth Region and Beyond: Neale L. Bougher.

 

Boletellus obscurecoccineus or Rhubarb Bolete

 

Reptiles and Amphibians

 

The bushland is home to a surprisingly rich reptile and amphibian fauna.

 

17 species of reptile have been recorded (PF Berry 1998/99)

With reptiles there is a strong relationship between the number of different species occurring on bushland remnants and the size of the remnant. Smaller remnants have fewer species surviving long-term.’ John Dell, zoologist

 

Fourteen of the reptile species recorded are entirely dependent on native bushland. (PF Berry)

 

Three species of frog are present, Moaning Frog, Banjo Frog and Turtle Frog which are dependent on the size of the bushland, the diversity of habitats and the linkages to Shenton Bushland and Bold Park for their survival

  • Turtle frogs, Myobatrachus gouldii) spend most of their life underground. Their feet lack webbing and they possess claws for efficient burrowing. They eat termites. During the dry summer months these frogs may be from one to two metres underground. Amazingly and very unusually, they have dissociated courtship from mating. In spring following rain, males come to the surface to call for a female. When a female comes to the call she follows him underground but mating does not take place then. This occurs in summer.

 

Processes that are detrimental to the health of Banksias will affect turtle frogs. The maintenance of Banksia woodlands will be critical to the long-term persistence of this enigmatic amphibian.

 

Birds

 

57 species of bird have been recorded for Underwood Avenue Bushland.

 

The species which have been recoded as having become extinct from Kings Park from 1928 – 1995, are the Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Western Thornbill, Western Yellow Robin, Scarlet Robin, and Golden Whistler. (Recher and Serventy 1991 and Recher 1997). Species which are declining from Kings Park are the Whistling Kite, Carnaby’s Cockatoo, Pallid Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Sacred Kingfisher, Western Gerygone, Inland Thornbill, Western Thornbill, Gray Fantail, Gray Butcherbird and Tree Martin.

 

The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) is moving towards the listing of small scrub passerines. These small birds are disappearing from urban areas.

 

  • Raptors

Raptors such as Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Little Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Australian Hobby, Peregrine Falcon and Kestrel live in or visit the bushland. The Goshawk breeds in the bushland almost every year. Enter the bushland at your peril when the Goshawks are nesting.

  • Mammals: Trichosurus vulpecular, Common Brushtail Possum, bats, (probably no surveys conducted), foxes (daily presence in the bushland).
  • Invertebrates: Insects, Chelicerates (spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, harvestmen) and Myriapids (centipedes and millipedes) make up 97% of all species in Western Australia.

 

‘The trees (and undoubtedly the shrubs, leaf litter and soil) harbour a massive diversity of insects, spiders and allied forms. The Jarrah trees alone can support over 400 species of such animals. By clearing a sizeable component of this remnant, we may be contributing to the removal of hundreds of species of animals from this part of the Metropolitan area.’

 

Jonathon Majer, Professor Environmental Biology

 

  • Mygalomorph spiders: there are two confirmed species, Missulena granulosa (not a short range endemic) and Idiosoma sigillatum (short range endemic). There may be two species of nemesids (no lids to burrows). The size of the bushland would indicate that the species are sustainable within that area. Underwood Avenue Bushland is hugely significant for mygalomorph spiders. 

 

5.3 Carnaby’s Cockatoo (endangered) and Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (vulnerable)

 

‘Internationally, Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo and Baudin’s Black-Cockatoo are listed as endangered under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (BirdLife International 2012a,b). Carnaby’s Cockatoos are listed as endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, while Baudin’s Cockatoos and FRTBC are listed as vulnerable. Listed threatened species constitute a matter of national environmental significance (MNES) under the act and receive special protection’. (The 2014 Great Cocky Count)

 

The roosting site CAMFLOR001 for Carnaby’s Cockatoos is in tall trees at the corners of the intersection of Underwood Avenue and Brockway Road/Brookdale Street. The south-east corner of this intersection is part of Lot 4 (Underwood Avenue Bushland).

 

This roost site is a critical roost for Carnaby’s Cockatoo and is one of the ten significant roosting sites in the Perth-Peel region..

 

The Carnaby’s Cockatoos w roosting at this site are descendants of birds who have historically roosted at this site for generations ,. The cultural knowledge has been transferred over generations.

 

Carnaby’s Cockatoos start returning from the wheat-belt in December after the breeding season.

 

Numbers of cockatoos build up over February and March with the peak numbers of birds recorded in April, May and June. The average numbers for April and May in 2014 were 202 and 218 respectively. The greatest number counted was on 25 April 2014, with 408 birds roosting.

 

Each morning the Carnaby’s leave the roost site to carry out the activities for the day. Usually they stay as a whole flock and then break up into smaller flocks or groups to forage.

 

Records have been kept of the Carnaby’s flock flying east from the roost site into Underwood Avenue Bushland. From 18 January 2014 to 23 July 2014 a flock or part flock was recorded feeding in the bushland in the mornings on 46 mornings. Observations did not occur every morning.

 

During the day family groups or larger groups may return to the bushland as part of the day’s activities. The bushland is a critical food resource for Carnaby’s Cockatoos.

 

Banksia prionotes flowers from January to August, the time that Carnaby’s Cockatoos are on the Swan Coastal Plain. This banksia produces a large number of flowering cones. The main stand of B prionotes grows in a roughly triangular shaped area with the base along Underwood Avenue. This whole area would be destroyed if the housing proposal is approved. Banksia menziesii flowers a little later, from February to October.

 

When Banksia prionotes and Banksia menziesii are flowering, Banksia attenuata has finished flowering. Banksia attenuata flowers from October to February, so has seed bearing cones from March.

 

Therefore Carnaby’s Cockatoos are able to feed on the nectar of Banksia prionotes and the seeds of Banksia attenuata. To eat from these species of banksias the Carnaby’s Cockatoos fly over the whole bushland. The UWA claim that the feeding habitat of Carnaby’s Cockatoos is protected is cannot be supported and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the food requirements of this flock.

 

Other foods in the bushland include the grubs within the branches of the acacias and tuart trees, invertebrates under the bark of jarrah and tuart and within acacia galls, and the seeds of grass trees and hakeas.

 

If Carnaby’s Cockatoo parents have had a successful breeding event, their juvenile is with them. An adult Carnby’s was seen to extract a larva from an acacia branch, swallow it, and immediately walk up the branch to a position above the juvenile. The adult then regurgitated into the juvenile’s beak.

 

Male Carnaby’s Cockatoo eating nectar of Banksia prionotes.

 

After the fire of 11 January 2014 hollows in big trees were burnt so now more nesting sites are available. There is competition for tree hollows from introduced pest species: corellas, lorikeets as well as from native species such as ducks.

 

A pair of Carnaby’s Cockatoos investigating a hollow in an old tuart.

 

Climate change

 

Hot weather and heatwaves affect the ability of Carnaby’s Cockatoo to forage and feed and they can only do this early in the morning or late in the afternoon. In January 2010 145 Carnaby’s were found dead after an extreme heat wave. The birds had been exposed to a hot wind of over 50 degrees C (Dr Denis Saunders)

 

In the severe thunderstorm and hailstorm of 2010, 57 Carnaby’s Cockatoos were killed, most in Kings Park and Subiaco, and 24 were severely injured.

 

Ron Johnstone, WA Museum, said that the existence of Carnaby’s Cockatoo is likely to become more precarious as they shift their breeding grounds from the wheat-belt to around Perth. The breeding location shift has been occurring since WW11 as a result of large-scale land clearing in the wheat belt, and has accelerated in the last three decades by climate change and competition for food and nesting hollows with galahs and other cockatoos and bees.

 

The UN draft synthesis report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as reported 28 August 201, stated:

 

Continued emission of green-house gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.

 

Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.

 

This species is listed as ‘vulnerable.’ Ron Johnstone, Director of Ornithology WA Museum, has stated that red tails are even more vulnerable to extinction than Carnaby’s Cockatoo (pers comm)

 

Was it the lack of water in the forest which caused forest trees not to develop seed which forced the red tails to fly down onto the Swan Coastal Plain around 2010 In the past this species would only venture down from the hills to feed during the day and then fly back each evening, now they are roosting in a number of what seems to be permanent roost throughout the metro area. A flock of around 109 red tails roost nightly at the UWA Sports Park on the west side of Brockway Road, Shenton Park. This number was counted at the Great Cocky Count of April 2014. This roost site is only 500 metres south from the Carnaby’s roost site.

 

It was known that the red tails flew into the Underwood Avenue Bushland prior to the 2014 fire, but after the fire when observations happened on an almost daily basis, it was observed that the flock flew east into the bushland every morning. Morning after morning the red tails flew to burnt jarrah trees. The burnt trees had retained the nuts, and the seeds within the nuts were eaten voraciously. The seeds from the unburnt jarrah trees also were eaten. This behaviour of flying into the bushland to eat continues to the time of writing, September 2014.

 

Eating jarrah seeds was not the only activity carried out in the bushland. Over seven months to the present time, tree hollows were investigated for possible nesting. Wood around the edges of hollows was chewed and placed in the bottom of hollows. Competition for tree hollows is from galahs, lorikeets, corellas, wood ducks and mountain ducks.

 

Males exhibited behaviours to demonstrate their prowess and suitability for becoming a breeding partner. These behaviours include spreading the tail feathers while striking poses and hanging upside down for periods of time up to 30 seconds. Mating has been observed and photographed in the bushland during June 2010.

 

 

5.4 Wildlife Corridor

 

The bushland lies between Bold Park to the west and Shenton Bushland to the south and on to Kings Park. It is a very significant ecological linkage to maintain connectivity for birds, reptiles, amphibians, for plant genetic diversity and as a refuge in case of fire or other disaster.

 

The map shows the strategic position of Underwood Avenue Bushland between Bold Park and Kings Park. Also evident is the extent of clearing on the Swan Coastal Plain.

 

Greenway corridor number 19

 

Greenways were identified in ‘Perth’s Greenway Policy’ commissioned by the state government. (Tingay 1998). This corridor is strategic in contributing to the health and vitality of Kings Park, Bold Park and the bushland and wetland areas between and beyond.

 

This linkage is also identified in the WESTROC Greening Plan.

 

5.5 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC)

 

The EPBC Act is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places — defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance (MNES).

 

Matters of National Environmental Significance.

 

Most of these MNES are the subject of international commitments and their protection and management are of national concern, extending beyond the interests of any one state. (Law Council)

 

Throughout the period 1999-2014 UWA has been prevented from implementing the housing development under the EPBC Act because Underwood Avenue Bushland is critical habitat for both species of the nationally significant black cockatoos. Other species of significance are the Rainbow Bee-eater and the Graceful Sun-moth.

 

The UWA proposal has been presented twice to the federal government under the EPBC Act, in 2004 and 2007 and on both occasions the proposal was declared to be a ‘controlled action.’ On 16 December 2007 the draft decision of the Department was:

 

‘That approval not be given for the proposal by the University of Western Australia to develop the eastern portion of Lot 4 Underwood Avenue, Shenton Park, WA for residential purposes under the EPBC Act 1999.’

 

This recommendation was to go to the then Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, for final decision but the University withdrew the proposal the following day.

 

The FUAB is concerned at proposed changes to environmental planning decisions. These changes aim to ‘Cut Green Tape’ and to create a ‘One Stop Shop’ for development proposals after state and federal government bilateral agreements are signed. This is not retrospective and it is understood that the UWA proposal will still have to be referred to the federal government.

 

Banksia Woodlands now being assessed as a Threatened Ecological Community

 

Banksia Woodlands on the Swan Coastal Plain is now under assessment as a Threatened Ecological Community under the EPBC Act. The aim of having threatened communities listed is to prevent those areas falling off the planet. The result of the consideration of Banksia Woodlands being listed as a TEC will be announced by the national independent scientific assessment committee before the end of 2014. The Urban Bushland Council WA anticipates that the recommended level of federal listing will be ‘endangered.’

 

Strategic Assessment Perth-Peel Region

 

Notably under the Strategic Assessment for the Perth/Peel region, the Banksia Woodlands are to be considered as already listed as a TEC.

Currently the UWA has not re-referred its proposal to the EPBC. Both the MNES relating to cockatoos and Banksia Woodlands will trigger assessment under the Act. It is likely that the federal government will reject any proposal. Now the values have increased with more clearing and with Carnaby’s numbers dropping alarmingly (refer Great Cockatoo Count 2014).

 

5.6 Why the Bushland should be protected in its entirety

 

If the development proceeded, Carnaby’s Cockatoos would not be able to survive into the future. Underwood Avenue Bushland is critical habitat for Carnaby’s Cockatoos.

 

‘……..Regardless, of the caveats, the site provides a significant food source in a strategic location.’

(FOI e-mail advice within the DEC).

 

‘One of the unfortunate consequences of land clearing and habitat degradation is that the remaining birds are forced into smaller and smaller areas with fewer flocks which represent increasingly larger proportions of the total population and so the effects of such stochastic events as occurred in 2009/2010 will be more severe for the species. With the increasing urbanization of much of the range of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo there is need to protect all remaining foraging and roosting habitat and for the creation of more such habitat.

 

Saunders, Mawson and Dawson: The impact of two extreme weather events and other causes of death on Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo: a promise of things to come for a threatened species?

 

The community wants a future where birds and bushland are still part of their lives. They want Underwood Avenue Bushland protected.

 

The values of the bushland will be lost if part is destroyed. Its value lies in its size and in its variety of vegetation communities and because of its link to Bold Park and Shenton Bushland and Kings Park.

 

  1. Waste Water Treatment Plant

 

The UWA took the Water Corporation to the Supreme Court alleging that the Water Corporation caused a public nuisance due to the odour issue. The odour buffer meant that UWA could not develop the land within the buffer and the buffer cuts across the bushland from the south-east to the north-west. The Water Corporation counter-sued. The position of the Water Corporation not to oppose the UWA’s development plans was forced on it after 7 years of legal wrangling in the Supreme Court. Odour remediation started in 2001 and was completed in 2005.

 

Buffer zone risks 

 

The Subiaco Wastewater Treatment plant is predicted and indeed planned by the Water Corporation to double its capacity due to increased development in its catchment. Our expert advice from an experienced water and wastewater microbiologist is that this means that the public safety buffer zone will have increased risk of odour and aerosol emissions of toxic chemicals and pathogenic microbes in the event of plant failure, power failure, or unusual peak flow events or catastrophic events such as explosion or spillage of chemicals (eg chlorine).  Larger volumes of dangerous chemicals such as chlorine will need to be stored at the plant.  Therefore the buffer zone will need to be increased substantially.  Notably the existing buffer zone already extends over about half of the Underwood Avenue Bush Forever site.

 

As a matter of public safety and sound planning it is prudent for the buffer zone to be made as large as possible on land that is currently not occupied by housing.  This means that the whole of the Underwood Avenue Bush Forever site and other adjacent lands surrounding the Wastewater Treatment Plant should all be formally (ie legally) included in the buffer zone and not developed.  Indeed the increased size of the Plant renders these lands ‘not developable’ in planning terms.

 

This is new information which has emerged after the State’s environmental assessment some years ago.

 

  1. Aboriginal Heritage

 

Underwood Avenue Bushland was one of the last places of refuge of Noongar people in the western suburbs in the settlement of Perth. The Macintyre Dobson Report on an Ethnographic, Ethnohistorical, Archaeological and Indigenous Environmental Survey of the Underwood Avenue Bushland Project Area, Shenton Park, prepared for the UWA by Consulting Anthropologists Macintyre Dobson and Associates Pty Ltd and Consulting Archaeologist Thomas O’Reilly, June 2002 is fascinating work. This report details recollections by Noongar people on how they and their ancestors used Underwood Avenue Bushland as a home and as a refuge right up until the 1950s.

 

The Report states:

 

The Aboriginal consultants requested that the entire University-owned Bushland Project Area be preserved as a living site of significance to contemporary Aboriginal people as it forms an important part of their ‘ancestral run’ and cultural landscape’. (p46) and

 

‘If this landscape is to be considered as “remnant cultural landscape” involving Aboriginal spirituality and religious beliefs, then it must necessarily be subject to protection under Section 5 of the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 this area may be regarded as a site of spiritual and cultural significance to Nyungar people’.

 

There are four ‘newly recorded potential ethnographic sites of Aboriginal Significance within the Underwood Avenue bushland Project Area’. These are two camp-sites, the interlocking jarrah trees and the whole site ‘to be protected as a living site of significance to contemporary Aboriginal people’.

 

These recorded sites have not been accepted for the permanent register.

 

A post-colonial glass artefact, possibly late 1800s, early 1900s, was found in the bushland 30 December 2012 and confirmed as an artefact by the Head of Department Anthropology and Archaeology WA Museum. Glass from which the artefact may have been made has also been found.

 

  1. Recreational, Educational and Research Values

 

8.1 Recreation

Preservation of the Underwood Bushland in the conservation estate will create a significant recreational and community asset. The recreational opportunities provided by a well-managed reserve will benefit both local residents as well as the wider community in Perth.

 

Whadjut Trails Network

 

The Whadjut network of walking trails lies on Noongar land and connects remnant bushland areas in the western suburbs of Perth. Trails are marked with triangular markers in footpaths and on posts along the route. Information relating to fauna, flora and indigenous cultural heritage is contained within the trails.

 

The trail goes from Kings Park, via Lake Jualabup, Shenton Bushland, around Underwood Avenue Bushland, Bold Park, Lake Claremont, Allen Park and finishes at Grant Marine Park.

 

The trail could be easily altered to go through Underwood Avenue Bushland. www.whadjut walking trails.org.au

 

8.2 Tourism

The presence of large numbers of the threatened Carnaby and Red-tailed Black Cockatoos is a highly valuable tourism asset which is currently little known. The presence of cockatoos within the Bushland, together with the roost site on the corner of Underwood Avenue and Brockway Road, if properly managed, offers a high quality tourist experience for international and interstate visitors as well the general public in Perth. Where else in the world can such a spectacular wildlife experience be found in an urban setting. The future “Underwood Conservation Reserve” can be marketed as a unique wildlife location in central Perth.

 

8.3 Education and Research

 

UWA has long used the Underwood site for agricultural and biological research. Having the bushland and research facilities so close to the University would be the envy of other institutions.

 

Research being carried out in Underwood Avenue Bushland is significant to the state of Western Australia. Current research includes:

  • Interaction of plant and soil, the result of which will have far reaching implications on the understanding of key processes that maintain the biodiversity of Western Australia. This research can have far reaching implications on the way we view and understand plant and soil interactions that remain understudied; yet they detail key processes that maintain the biodiversity of WA.
  • BPGA research into regeneration of plants after fire comparing burnt and unburnt areas
  • Root dynamics in a nutrient-poor and drying biodiversity hotspot (by François P. Teste, Bryden Quirk, Victoria Marchesini, Erik Veneklaas, Kinsgley Dixon, Hans Lambers)
  • Negative distance- and density-dependent seedling mortality in Banksia attenuata: a role for root pathogens? (by Etienne Laliberté and François Teste)
  • UWA research for PhD into mygalomorph spiders, vulnerable to land-use change and range contraction.
  • Citizen scientist’s research into the behaviour and numbers of Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo and Carnaby’s Cockatoo in the bushland. Numbers of Carnaby’s Cockatoos roosting at their historic site are recorded almost nightly in the cockatoos non breeding season-January to August

 

Other research includes

  • UWA research into ‘the strange sex life of turtle frogs’.
  • UWA research into orchids.
  • Forensic research

 

9. FUAB Campaign Initiatives and Community Perspectives

 

During June, July and August 2014 the FUAB reached out to the CURTIN electorate to ask their views on the proposed development in the bushland.

 

18,000 information and action directed fliers were distributed to households in the catchment area surrounding the Underwood Bushland. Fliers were distributed in Floreat, Daglish, Mount Claremont, Wembley, Jolimont, Nedlands North and Subiaco. The flier encouraged residents to write to their Curtin member of parliament about their views and to sign the FUAB online petition.

 

Doorknocking was carried by FUAB volunteers in a limited number of streets nearby to the Bushland to canvas local resident’s views on this issue.

 

An online petition ( http://chn.ge/1j42Tco ) generated 2716 signatures. The petition is directed to the Member for Curtin and requests Hon Julie Bishop to:

 

‘Please act with urgency so that the University of Western Australia’s proposal for housing in Underwood Avenue Bushland, Shenton Park, Western Australia, does not proceed.”

 

‘The Friends of Underwood Avenue’ Facebook page has received 660 likes. A Post about the release of the 2014 Great Cocky Count reached 24,104 people.

 

  1. Community Responses and Findings
    • UWA Convocation

 

Eric Lawson, agriculture graduate of UWA, spoke to the meeting of around 200 members of convocation, 21 March 2014, on his concerns regarding the University’s plans to sell off this bushland and its importance for wildlife. He asked whether the meeting would support a motion not to sell the Underwood Avenue Bushland.

 

Eric Lawson’s speech was met with applause and a standing ovation.

 

In response, Colin Campbell-Fraser, former Senior Advisor of UWA, advised that ‘this land was originally used as farmland and had not been natural bushland for many decades.’ He also advised that studies have shown that the black cockatoos do not inhabit nor feed from this bushland-they fly over the bushland. He stated that the reduction in the numbers of black cockatoos was a result of a reduction in farmland.’

 

The motion was not put to the meeting.

 

http://www.convocation.uwa.edu.au/__data/page/188162/FOM2014_Meeting_Booklet.pdf

 

At the Second Ordinary Convocation Meeting Friday 12 September 2014, the issue of Underwood Avenue Bushland was again raised and the audience of around 300 showed support with a round of applause for each speaker. The first of the questioners was reminded by the Warden of Convocation, that a response had been given at the previous Convocation meeting, and that questioner replied that the response had been ‘eloquent but somewhat vacuous’.

 

Two other members of Convocation spoke on Underwood and a plea was made for the University to withdraw the proposal. The Warden, Professor Warren Kerr, said he would take it on board and come back with an answer.

 

Members of Convocation subsequently wrote to the Warden expressing the importance of protecting Underwood Avenue Bushland. The Warden replied (25 September 2014), stating that he has ‘listed this matter for discussion at the next meeting of Convocation Council.’ (1 October) The Warden has also raised the matter with the Vice-chancellor and his Chief Advisor on Corporate and Government Affairs. ‘I understand that following consideration of these issues, he will be preparing a response to you about the University’s plans for the bushland at Underwood Avenue.’

 

  • The Community

 

The community want a future where birds and bushland are still part of their lives. They want Underwood Avenue Bushland protected. Listed below are but a few of their comments.

‘We local people want this land kept as an unspoiled undeveloped space. Build up if you want more people.’ John Lewis, resident Wembley.

     ‘This is short-sighted and your children’s heritage!!’ Helen Young, resident Mt Claremont

The extinction of a species is too high a price for any university degree. May the University of Western Australia live by its motto – “Seek wisdom.” Margaret Furphy

Heritage needs to be kept and saved and given benefit over short term expediency leading to permanent loss. Barry Dufall, Margaret River.

Remnant bushland is the last refuge for creatures that are an integral part of our ecosystem. Stephanie Wood Wembley.

Future generations should not be denied the opportunity of experiencing these magnificent birds. Not to mention their importance to the Noongar culture, and local ecology. I urge UWA to reconsider. Emma Clark Rivervale.

This bushland provides a fantastic opportunity for the University to extend its history of research and understand the wildlife, research into artificial nesting boxes, breeding patterns etc. It has the chance to do this on ITS OWN land, and yet instead it wants to destroy it. Helen Anderson.

This is a very valuable last remnant of Perth’s ever decreasing bushland. The University could make much better use of this as remnant bushland for teaching and research. Roz Hart

Children are sensitive to the impact clearing would have on bushland creatures. Two comments from children follow:

It belongs to us. Don’t bulldozer beauty’

‘People are cutting down too many trees. Not only are the Red Tailed Black Cockatoos being endangered but we are running out of oxygen.’

‘I don’t want cockatoos to become extinct.’

Doorknocking and community engagement by members of FUAB confirm that there is strong public support for the preservation of the bushland. Should UWA proceed with the proposal it is anticipated that the adverse publicity generated will significantly damage the UWA brand and its social licence to operate. Ultimately this may result in greater financial loss to the university than the short-term financial gain obtained from the development.

  • Letter from E/Professor Don Bradshaw

A letter written by E/Professor Don Bradshaw and signed by 36 eminent scientists was sent to the Hon Julie Bishop.

The opening sentence of this letter is:

“We the undersigned scientists, writing as private citizens, with to express our concern and dismay at the intended destruction of important bushland in the development proposed by the University of Western Australia for endowment land bordering Underwood Avenue in Shenton Park.”

 

  1. Request for Action and Solutions

One hundred and ten years have passed since the bushland was endowed to UWA but now it is time to protect the future. The University has expended effort and money in its pursuit of development.

Our state, our country, now sees the fearful possibility, even probability, that Carnaby’s Cockatoos will be extinct within fifteen to twenty years on our current path.

In 2011 the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Bill Marmion stated that there was not enough data to establish a continuing declining population.

In 2014 the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Albert Jacob said the decline was ‘cause for concern’. ‘However, a number of factors could be driving this, including drought, car strike and clearing of pines.’

This response from a Minister charged with protecting our species, is not acceptable.

The community wants the bushland protected from development. How this is to be achieved is problematical but not impossible. We have inherited a planning legacy from a time when bushland was not valued.

An example of a University donating property exists in Canada. The University of Arcadia was gifted a 300 acre island, Bon Portage Island in Nova Scotia. Driven by a champion within the University, this island of high conservation value is now protected from development.

Alternative Options

1.) The Hon Julie Bishop has been investigating the possibility of a land swap of similar value in a similar location.

2.) A well-run campaign would raise sufficient funds to substantially compensate the University for retaining the bushland as a conservation area in perpetuity. This would have wide popular appeal and would enhance the flow of income from donations and bequests.

3.) Convocation, with state and federal authorities, could maintain a trust fund specifically for a ‘University of Western Australia Underwood Bushland Centre of Excellence’. The bushland could become a world-renowned research centre.

4.) By acting altruistically in withdrawing the proposal for housing and protecting the bushland from development, the benefits to the University would far outweigh the benefits of short term financial gain.

ADDENDA

  • Scientists Statements
  • Letter from Colin Barnett
  • Deed endowing the bushland to the University
  • Petition

 

1.) SCIENTISTS STATEMENTS

Proposal a Controlled Action for fauna and fauna habitat under Federal legislation

“The current proposal is virtually silent on the question of fauna, despite the fact that the Federal Government, through the EPBC Act 1999 has recently classified the proposal as a Controlled Action, because of the Schedule 1 listed Carnaby’s black cockatoos that roost on the site.  The little Eagle has also been seen to nest in the area (see attached list of birds and reptiles) and the preservation of this species’ dramatically diminished habitat in the metropolitan area is very important.”

Emeritus Professor, Don Bradshaw, zoologist

 

Underwood Avenue Bushland Banksia prionotes rare and important for endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos

“The large stand of Bankisa prionotes dominated vegetation is very uncommon in the Perth Metropolitan Region.

Malcolm Trudgen, consulting botanist

 

Banksia prionotes is a very, very important source of food for Carnaby’s cockatoos, which use the flowers, seeds in the cones and grubs from the cones.

John Dell, zoologist

 

“Carnaby’s take a great deal of nectar and insect larvae as well as seed that is generally only available in remnant bushland.”

 

“The loss of small patches of vegetation like the Underwood Avenue Bushland on the Swan Coastal Plain is death by a thousand cuts and there should be strong pressure to preserve this type of vegetation.”

Ron Johnstone, Ornithologist, WA Museum

 

 

Endangered Carnaby’s Cockatoo may abandon Underwood Avenue Bushland

“The Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) listed as Endangered under Schedule 1 of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999, (EPBC Act) roosts on the subject site. Threats to the status of this species include clearance and fragmentation of habitat and a shortage of tree hollows (Garnett and Crowley 2000) Development of the site, especially if the bushland remnants on each block are too small, has the potential to cause this species to abandon the subject site as a preferred roosting spot.”

Dr Stephen Ambrose, professional ornithologist

 

“The Banksia prionotes thicket is seasonally significant for birds such as Carnaby’s Cockatoo as well as several species of honeyeater. There is no known area of similar size in the Perth Metropolitan Region.”

Department of Environmental Protection

 

Consequential loss of bird species elsewhere

“Loss of Underwood Avenue bushland could be expected to lead to the continued loss of bird species from Kings Park.”

 

“Kings Park is probably still losing biodiversity. Ten bird species recorded there by Serventy in 1936 are now extinct in the Park.”

Dr Paddy Berry, Director of Natural Science, WA Museum

 

Loss of Underwood Avenue Bushland linkage a barrier for birds

“The bushland on the subject site is cited in Perth Bushplan as being regionally significant. It is a significant link in the wildlife (bird) corridor between Bold Park and Kings Park. Development of the subject site, as proposed, would fragment this corridor even more. Consequently, the development would create a barrier to the dispersal of some small passerine species along this corridor (eg Varied Sitella, Western Gerygone, Weebill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill and Striated Pardalote – all of which have been recorded on or to close to the subject site)”

Dr Stephen Ambrose, ornithologist, co-author of A field guide to the birds of the of Western Australia, Ambrose and Seventy, 1984

 

“Regional connectivity of Underwood Avenue to other areas such as Kings Park and Bold Park is of critical importance to the long-term capacity of Underwood to support regionally significant bird species, and is crucial for protecting these species against local extinction.”

 

Birds Australia

 

“…the Underwood Bushland was identified in the Perth Bush Plan as having high conservation value and comprising a “corridor” for the future dispersion of native animals and birds between remnants of native vegetation. The WA Museum’s findings confirm this emphatically.”

Dr P.F. Berry, Director of Natural Science, WA Museum

 

Adverse impacts on terrestrial animals like frogs

“The impact of any development of Underwood Avenue on terrestrial animals like frogs will be especially profound as any loss of bushland remnants for the area will reduce the likelihood of dispersal of these animals between remaining bushland and the suburban environment.”

Dr Ken Aplin, Curator of frogs and reptiles at the WA Museum.

 

Loss of Underwood Avenue Bushland breeding site for Gould’s Monitor and Little Eagle

“Underwood Avenue Bushland is used as a breeding site by Gould’s Monitor, Little Eagle, Moaning Frog and Banjo Frog as they move between Perry Lakes and Shenton Bushland.”

WA Museum

Size of remnant important for reptiles

“With reptiles there is a strong relationship between the number of different species occurring on bushland remnants and the size of the remnant. Smaller remnants have fewer species surviving long-term.”

John Dell, zoologist

Vertebrate fauna of Underwood Avenue Bushland not recognised

“As a result of limited reference use the assessment of the vertebrate fauna likely to be present on the site is not comprehensive and the significance of the site to vertebrate fauna is not adequately recognised. This is apparent from the limited list of species (especially birds) in Appendix 2 (ATA, Environmental Assessment, 2000) in the report.”

John Dell, zoologist

Potential loss of hundreds of invertebrates

“The trees (and undoubtedly the shrubs, leaf litter and soil) harbour a massive diversity of insects, spiders and allied forms. The Jarrah trees alone can support over 400 species of such animals. By clearing a sizeable component of this remnant, we may be contributing to the removal of hundreds of species of animals from this part of the Metropolitan area.”

Professor Jonathon Majer, Professor of Environmental Biology, Curtin University

 

Mature Tuart trees a priority for retention

“Tuart dominated communities have been significantly impacted by partial clearing, grazing, use as shelter areas, frequent fire, forestry, horticulture, weed invasion and apparently, changes in the water table.”

“Areas of tuart dominated vegetation in the best condition should be priorities for retention and protection…”

B.J.Keighery, consulting botanist, 2002

 

Loss of diversity of vegetation communities

“The most extensive vegetation association shown in the ATA Environmental (2000, 2004), – Em BaBm (Jarrah Low Woodland over Banksia attenuata, B menziesii and Allocausaurina fraseriana Low Woodland), covering the south-eastern half of the Underwood Avenue Bushland – varies within the Underwood Avenue stand and differs significantly from comparable jarrah low woodlands in Bold Park, Shenton bushland and Kings Park.” The other native vegetation units in the Underwood Avenue Bushland also differ from comparable units in Bold Park, Shenton Bushland and Kings Park.”

The variety of vegetation units in the Underwood Avenue Bushland, the variation within some of them and their difference from the vegetation units in Bold Park, Shenton Bushland and Kings Park are all reasons for retaining all of the Underwood Avenue Bushland. An additional reason for retaining all of the bushland, from the point of view of fauna, as well as of vegetation and flora, is that the interior of a large area is better buffered from adverse outside influences than a small area.

Dr Arthur Weston, consulting botanist

 

“This is some of the best remnant Jarrah woodland in the Perth Metropolitan Region.”

Malcolm Trudgen, consulting botanist

 

“The condition of the bushland is comparable to, and in many cases better than, other regionally significant areas on the Spearwood Dunes.”

EPA Report 1034

Underwood Avenue Bushland important for water quality

“Within urban areas, bushland remnants could have an important role in providing pollution free buffer zones….they could have an important role in helping local government deal with water resource management issues such as the Mt Claremont problems. Groundwater beneath areas of bushland is usually of high quality and is free of contamination that almost always results from urban development.”

Dr Steven Appleyard, Waters and Rivers Commission

Significant contribution of Underwood Avenue Bushland to conservation values of surrounding area

“Through its contribution to the conservation values of surrounding area – the value of the bushland is greater than if it is considered in isolation.”

Malcolm Trudgen, consulting botanist

Clearing more extensive than proposal

“Extensive areas will also be cleared and earthworked in preparation for future development and one wonders why these areas are not shown now as part of the residential subdivision. The proposal to clear bush vegetation in the ‘odour buffer zone’ would also appear to be a cynical exercise as this cannot be used for residential purposes and could be retained in perpetuity as part of the natural environment.”

Emeritus Professor, Don Bradshaw, zoologist

Clearing of Underwood Avenue Bushland very significant loss of flora and fauna

“Clearing of a substantial amount of Pt Lot 4 Underwood Avenue/Selby Street, Shenton Park will result in very significant loss of native flora, fauna and vegetation.”

“Reducing the size of Underwood Avenue Bushland by more than 50% is likely to cause loss of approximately 20% of flora and fauna species. Also a particularly significant statistic is that 15% of flora species present in Underwood are considered to be less than well reserved in the Southern Swan Coastal Plain.”

“It is well known that the Swan Coastal Plain bioregion is very highly cleared, particularly from the northern part of the Perth Metropolitan Region southwards. In fact, it is arguable that any area of bushland of significant size on the plain south of about Wanneroo is of very high conservation value and should be protected.”

“Underwood Avenue Bushland contains a diversity of vegetation communities – it cannot simply be characterised as Banksia attenuata or B. attenuata – E woodlands. This diversity will be lost if only one small part of the bushland is retained.”

Malcolm Trudgen, consulting botanist, March 2002

“The area, structure, integrity and heterogeneity of the naturally occurring vegetation associations in the bushland landscape [Underwood Avenue Bushland] along with their associated ecological exchanges and links (such as habitat diversity, seasonal flowering and fauna food availability) will be irreversibly and negatively impacted by dramatic spatial reduction of the existing bushland configuration, resulting in simplification and isolation of remaining patches.”

Russell H. Catomore, environmentalist

Karrakatta Central and South vegetation complex already overcleared

“The Bush Forever process will result in less than 10% of the Karrakatta Central and South Vegetation complex being protected in the Perth Metropolitan Region… Such an outcome is environmentally unsustainable and should be unacceptable to the EPA.”

Malcolm Trudgen, consulting botanist

 

“Karrakatta Central and South vegetation type is not well reserved. Although 34% of the original extent still remains on the Swan Coastal Plain, most is in private lands, and less than 6% of original extent is protected.”

Department of Environmental Protection

 

Retention of all Underwood Avenue Bushland essential

“…in my view, there is a very substantial case, based on either the flora or vegetation of the bushland, for retention of all the bushland. The combination of values for flora and vegetation provides a compelling case.”

Malcolm Trudgen, consulting botanist

Removal of bushland of vital regional significance

“The total area of the land at 33.38 ha is already a small remnant of once extensive bushland and reducing further its size only increases the difficulties involved in managing it to retain its environmental values. The bushland is cited in Perth Bushplan as being of regional significance. It is an important and substantial part of the vital wildlife (bird) corridor between Bold Park and Kings Park. Any loss of this bush will put more pressure on the ability of these areas to support flora and wildlife, causing the whole region to suffer. It should be noted there is also development pressure on Perry Lakes and surrounding areas.

Emeritus Professor, Don Bradshaw, zoologist 

  1. LETTER WRITTEN BY COLIN BARNETT, AS THE MEMBER FOR COTTESLOE, TO PROTECT THE BUSHLAND, MAY 2008.

28 May 2008

Hon David Templeman MLA

Minister for the Environment

29th Floor Allendale Square

77 St George’s Terrace

PERTH  WA  6000

Dear Minister

Underwood Avenue Bushland – Floreat

A proposal to clear two thirds of the 38 hectare Underwood Avenue Bushland site is currently before you as Minister for Environment.   The University of Western Australia (UWA) wishes to redevelop the area for housing.  A similar proposal was rejected by your predecessor, the Hon Judy Edwards MLA.

This area of bushland has a long history.  As local member, my original concern was to ensure that the bushland was preserved as part of a buffer zone around the Subiaco Wastewater Treatment Plant.  For many years, adjacent residents complained about odours from the plant.  Recent improvements to the plant have significantly reduced this problem; nevertheless, I still believe that it is only prudent to retain an adequate buffer zone.  This view was shared by the Environmental Protection Authority

The most immediate matter, and of concern to residents, is the preservation of the bushland itself.  There is no doubt that this is a large and significant area of remnant bushland which provides a vital link between Bold Park and Shenton Bushland.

I have come to appreciate the special significance of the Underwood Avenue site.  Much of its vegetation and wildlife is either rare or unique.  In particular, I draw your attention to the extent and quality of the Jarrah, Banksia and Tuart woodland, which is without comparison on the Swan Coastal plain.

The point may be made that the area is in need of new residential land.  While there is always strong demand for land in the western suburbs, it should be noted that there are substantial new developments in the nearby Perry Lakes, Swanbourne High School and Lakeway Drive-In sites.

The University is obviously keen to realise the sale of this site.  The estimated value placed on the land is unrealistically high, given the current zoning.  Nevertheless, UWA does have a legitimate and significant interest in the final outcome as owner of the site.  It is relevant to note that UWA did not purchase the site, it was granted to the Trustees of the University Endowment by the State Government in the early 1900’s.

If you agree with me that the bushland does have a significant environmental status and should be preserved, then may I suggest that the government negotiate with UWA, with a view to acquiring the site and paying reasonable compensation.  A close precedent to this would be in the mid 1990’s when land owned by the Bond Corporation was purchased to form part of an enlarged Bold Park.

I appreciate the complexity of this situation and remain willing to assist in achieving a satisfactory solution to all parties.

I ask that you consider the preservation of this area in its entirety.

Yours sincerely

COLIN J BARNETT MLA

Member for Cottesloe

Mr Barnett in parliament:- ‘housing should never be built on this site.’

 

 

  1. DEED SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR ENDOWING THE LAND TO THE UNIVERSITY: TRANSCRIBED. The document has handwritten notes which in some parts are not legible.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Edward the VII, by the Grace of God, and of the British Dominion beyond the seas, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.

TO ALL TO WHOM these Presents shall come, GREETING: KNOW YE that We, of Our especial Grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion, have given and granted, and We do by these Presents, for Us, our heirs and successors, in consideration of the sum of Five shillings ______________________________________________

paid to the satisfaction of Our Governor of Our State of Western Australia, Give and Grant unto The Trustees of the University Endowment hereinafter called the Grantees.____________________________________

the natural surface and so much of the land as is below the natural surface to a depth of 200 feet of All That tract, or Parcel of land situate and being in the District of ___Swan_______

in our said State containing Six hundred and fourteen acres, more or less, and marked and distinguished in the Maps and Books of the Department of Lands and Surveys of Our said State as Swan Location 2103___________________________________________and BOUNDED by land starting from the south west corner of Perthshire at the location AK and extending South fortyfive chains sixtynine links along part of the East boundary of Swan .Location 1911, thence, 69 degree 53 minutes seventy nine chains fifty seven links (8?9degrees, 30’ 20 chains 6 links and 71 degrees 52 minutes nine chains seventy six links) along the southern/northern?? side of a public road, thence 113?degrees ?6 minutes eleven chains sixtyeight links 90degrees 16 minutes twenty three chains one link and 180 degrees ?6 minutes seven chains eight links across and along public roads, thence 51 degrees 7 minutes about sixty six chains thirty seven links, thence Westerley partly along the South side of this first mentioned road about 58 chains seventy eight links crossing but the road to its West side, thence nothing along said West side of road to the South East corner of Perthshire Location A1 thence West along part of the South boundary of Perthshire location A1 thence South about twenty chains and west about twenty chains along the East and South boundaries of Swan Location 691, and thence South about nine chains eighty five links and west about Fifty five chains along part of the East and the south boundaries of the said location AK to the starting point, and on the inner? part by and exclusive of public roads as shown coloured brown on the plan attached to ? these presents also by and exclusive of reserve 6845 containing two roads. The area bearings and distances being subject to adjustment by survey.____________________

the same is delineated in the plan drawn in the margin hereof: Together with all profits, commodities, hereditaments, and appurtenances what soever thereunto belonging, or in any wise appertaining: To HAVE AND TO HOLD the said Tract of Parcel of Land to the depth aforesaid, and all and singular the premises hereby granted with their appurtenances, not the said

_____________________________Grantees__________________________________

their successors and assigns for ever;___________________ and they YIELDING AND PAYING for the same to Us, Our heirs and successors, one pepper-corn of yearly rent on the twenty-fifth day of March in each year, or so soon thereafter as the same shall be lawfully demanded. Provided, NEVERTHELESS, that it shall at all times be lawful for Us, Our heirs and successors, or for any person or persons acting in that behalf by Our or their authority, to resume and enter upon possession of any part of the said Land, which it may at any time by Us, Our heirs and successors, be deemed necessary to resume for roads, tramways, railways, railway stations, bridges, canals, towing-paths, harbour or river improvement works, drainage or irrigation works or quarries, and generally for any other works or purposes of public use, utility, or convenience, and for the purpose of exercising the power to search for minerals hereinafter reserved, and such Land so resumed to hold to Us, Our heirs and successors, as of Our or their former estate, without making to the said

_________________________Grantees____________________________________

their successors and assigns any compensation in respect thereof; so nevertheless, that the lands so to be resumed shall not exceed one twentieth part in the whole of the lands aforesaid, and that no such resumption be made of the part of any Lands upon which any buildings may have been erected, or which may be in use as gardens, or otherwise, for the more convenient occupation of any such buildings without compensation; and PROVIDED, ALSO, that it shall be lawful at all times for Us, Our heirs and successors, or for any person or persons acting on that behalf, by Our or their authority, to cut and take away any such indigenous timber, and to search and dig for and carry away any stones or other materials which may be required for making or keeping in repair any roads, tramways, railways, railway stations, bridges, canals, towing–paths, harbour works, breakwaters, river improvements, drainage or irrigation works, and generally for any other works or purposes of public use, utility, or convenience, without making to the said

______________________________Grantees________________________________ their successors and assigns any compensation in respect thereof; and we do hereby save and reserve to Us, Our heirs and successors, all Mines of Gold, Silver, Copper, Tin or other Metals, Ore, and mineral or other substances containing metals, and all Gems or Precious Stones, and Coal or Mineral Oil, in and under the said Land, with full liberty at all times to search and dig for, and carry away the same; and for that purpose, to enter upon the said lands or any part thereof.

In Witness thereof We have caused Our trusty and well-beloved Admiral Sir F.G.D.Bedford G.C.B___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Governor of Our said State, to affix to these Presents the Public Seal of the said

Sealed this 30th day of  June

one thousand nine hundred and  four   

Fred G.D. Bedford

 

  1. PETITION TO HON JULIE BISHOP MP

3,000 people signed the change.org on-line petition and made comments supporting the retention of Underwood Avenue Bushland. Ms Bishop’s email address was not on the petition, but a selection of comments has been printed from the petition and is to be presented to Ms Bishop or her officer at Ms bishop’s office in Subiaco.

The petition is addressed to Hon Julie Bishop MP

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Member for Curtin

And the text reads:

“Please act with urgency so that the University of Western Australia’s proposal for housing in Underwood Avenue Bushland, Shenton Park, Western Australia, does not proceed.

The University of Western Australia is determined to clear over half of Underwood Avenue Bushland for a housing development.

The bushland provides a crucial link and refuge for wildlife between Kings Park and Bold Park.   Even if part of the bushland is retained, the proposed clearing means most of the bushland values will be lost.

Underwood Avenue Bushland has high conservation value and is a Bush Forever site.  It is hugely significant for the survival of black cockatoos. Family groups of around 40 Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoos fly into the bushland every morning and voraciously eat the Jarrah seeds.  There are very few Jarrahs left in the city and suburbs.

Nearby, a flock of 350 endangered Carnaby’s Cockatoos roost overnight and fly into the bushland to feed on their favourite foods: Banksias and the grubs within the Acacias and mighty Tuart trees. Here too they feed their young and socialise.

That flock of Carnaby’s Cockatoos around Underwood Avenue is the last surviving flock in the western suburbs of Perth.”

“Now if you just continue to degrade and reduce the amount of available foraging habitat you will lose that flock”. (Ron Johnstone: 4 January 2012)

The bushland also has special significance to Noongar people who lived there right up to the 1950s. It is part of their ancestral run and cultural landscape.

As a matter of urgency, we ask Ms Bishop to act now to ensure that the housing development proposed does not proceed.

As an example of comments made, three examples are given below:

Margaret Furphy Australia

The extinction of a species is too high a price for any university degree. May the University of Western Australia live by its motto – “Seek Wisdom.”

Helen Anderson Australia

This bushland provides a fantastic opportunity for the university to extend its history of research and understand the wildlife, research into artificial nesting boxes, breeding patterns etc. It has the chance to do this on ITS OWN land, and yet instead it wants to destroy it.

Victoria Chang-Leng Australia

Underwood Avenue is a very important bushland for a range of plants and animals of which some are very much threatened. We need to get our priorities right. I’m not willing to trade something that’s irreplaceable with something that is. As a student of UWA majoring in Zoology and Conservation Biology I’m putting my foot down and saying this needs to stop. Make the right and smart decision UWA and leave the bushland alone!

Petition to the Vice-Chancellor University foo Western Australia.

A petition signed and commented on by 3,076 people in the form of a beautiful A 3 sized booklet was presented to the V-c Prof Paul Johnson in the presence of Pro Vice-Chancellor Kent Anderson,

18 January 2016. The petition read as follows:

Petitioning Vice Chancellor, University of Western Australia Professor Paul Johnson

The University of WA is still intent on seeking approval for a residential estate in Underwood Avenue Bushland in Shenton Park. We ask you as Vice-Chancellor of the University of WA, to act so that the housing proposal is withdrawn.

 

The Vice-Chancellor received the petition politely and stated that he would show it to   others in the University. He did state that it is the Senate which runs the University. The University has done nothing to seek alternative uses which could protect the bushland, and it is the University’s intent to continue with the housing development.