2009 Case Study: Nell's Block, winner at WA Environment Awards

Alcoa of Australia, Greening Australia and the Harvey River Restoration Taskforce were jointly named the winners of the ‘Bush, Land and Waterways’ category at the 2009 Western Australian Environment Awards.

The Awards, run by the Department of Environment and Conservation, recognise and acknowledge environmental excellence in WA. The ‘Bush, Land and Waterways’ award is presented to an individual, group or organisation for outstanding achievement in restoring or rehabilitating degraded or contaminated land, and/ or in the conservation of our catchments and waterways.

The trio was awarded for its ‘Nell’s Block’ project, five kilometres from the Western Australian South-West town of Yarloop and close to Alcoa’s Wagerup and Willowdale operations. ‘Nell’s Block’ is a 16 hectare former pasture paddock, owned by Alcoa. It’s a seasonally inundated dampland within the Harvey Drainage System, but thanks to the partners’ 10 year management agreement, ‘Nell’s Block’ is experiencing the return of thriving populations of flora, fauna and fungi. The partners’ long-term goal is to rehabilitate the land back to reserve status and return it to the community for all to enjoy.

Alcoa Farmlands Manager Tony Hiscock, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to have the work recognised at such an early stage in the plans for the Block’s development.

“So much has happened both on the ground and within the community, yet there is still a long way to go before completion. The success of Nell’s is an outstanding example of how working together builds momentum and demonstrates how positive drive builds community ownership of the environment.

“With several agencies, non-government organisations, community groups and a university involved - more than 3000 hours of community input has gone into the project in 2009 alone.”

Nell’s Block also received the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation’s (DEC) Land For Wildlife (LFW) certification in 2009 - which is recognition of three years of hard work by not only the three partners but local community volunteers and university researchers as well.

DEC Land For Wildlife field officer Heather Adamson said to qualify for LFW certification the landholder (in this case Alcoa) needed to consider it important to care about the future of the remnant vegetation - or lack of it, in “Nell’s Block’s” case.

“Nell’s co-ordinators were given 18 months ‘interim’ membership with LFW to commence on-ground rehabilitation, taking on recommendations offered by LFW to provide habitat for wildlife and their future survival,” said Heather.

“The response during that period was overwhelming, with thousands of mixed flora species being planted and a wetland being created, to encourage frogs, reptiles, waterbirds, bushland birds and bandicoots. Large hollow logs have been brought on the block as an added very important habitat.

“Fungi spores have been included to assist with enriching the soil and as a food source for wildlife. Photographic monitoring is in place for future reference. The enthusiasm for such as project has been exceptional from everyone involved and will guarantee the success for the future and the future of our wildlife.”

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

Alcoa Farmlands Manager Tony Hiscock