part of the solution
 
tlc for perth’s swan river
Perth’s Swan River has been given a boost following a $600,000 investment from the Swan Alcoa Landcare Program (SALP).
 
Community environmental groups, covering areas from Midland down to Kwinana, have received funding which will go towards projects that aim to keep the Swan and Canning rivers healthy.

Throughout the year, 35 environmental groups will undertake over 41 on-ground rehabilitation and revegetation projects, including: foreshore, wetland and bushland restoration, the building of drains for living stream projects, and the creation of bushland corridors.
 
Alcoa of Australia was the founding partner in the Swan Alcoa Landcare Program 12 years ago. Today the program is driven and administered by the Perth Region NRM (formerly Swan Catchment Council), and funded by Alcoa, the Swan River Trust and Lotterywest.
Alcoa Managing Director Alan Cransberg said SALP is unique because it enables change at a grass-roots level by building the capacity of several community-based landcare groups.

The Rockingham Environment Centre will use its SALP funds for bushland recovery in the Lake Richmond area.

The Centre’s Christine Comer said: “This grant will support the restoration of lowland bushland to original native condition, and by stabilising native areas we are encouraging natural native fauna.”
“This is all part of our on-going efforts to meet our goal of returning the Lake Richmond reserve to its natural condition.

“As a not-for-profit organisation, we rely on the support of grants to actively work towards these goals on a continued basis. Support from Alcoa through programs like SALP is invaluable,” she said.

Wireless Hill Park in Booragoon suffers from introduced species which make it harder for native Australian species to thrive.  The Friends of Wireless Hill focuses on maintaining the biodiversity of Wireless Hill Park and has received a grant of more than $11,000.

Margaret Matthews from The Friends of Wireless Hill said: “Hand weeding in place of chemical weed control is allowing native grasses and orchids to thrive in the areas of best-condition bushland, and we hope in time to expand the areas which are managed in this way.”

“The SALP grant will help us to build on the work already done in partnership with other community groups, including Alcoa employees who have used Alcoa’s annual Month of Service to participate in weed removal over the past two years.”

The Wandi Landcare Group and the Town of Kwinana have received SALP funds for the past three years which have gone towards the revegetation of Lake Magenup Dampland.

Town of Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams said: “The consistency of the funding has greatly benefited the group by enabling it to follow-up with weed control in both the revegetation sites and in the control of the Arum Lily which is a nominated weed of national significance.

“As a result of this weed control, in conjunction with summer watering, there has been a very good survival rate of natives planted - almost 80% survival of 2008 and 2009 plantings.

“The control of Arum Lily has also been very successful and one more year of spraying is certain to get this weed under control.

“Throughout this year, our program will extend the revegetation work to the dampland area, with the planting of approximately 2,000 natives," Mayor Adams said.

With Alcoa having a strong on-going employee volunteering program, Mr Cransberg said the volunteering aspect of the program continues to resonate with him.

“I have seen first hand the achievements of some of these groups and their efforts and dedication in protecting the environment, so we can all enjoy our rivers and foreshore, is truly remarkable.

“These local environmental groups simply would not exist without the volunteers – and it’s their hard work that I really admire – year in, and year out.”

Alcoa also announced recently that we have committed to continue funding SALP for a further three years 2011-2013.

SALP falls under Alcoa’s conservation and sustainability partnership portfolio, which also includes its 27 year national partnership with Greening Australia.

Applications are now open for the 2011 SALP funding round and are available at the Perth Region NRM website: www.perthregionnrm.com

progressing long-term management program for fluoride emissions at portland aluminium
Portland Aluminium remains committed to ongoing research and the development of a long-term management plan to further understand and manage the affects of low level fluoride emissions on local fauna inside the boundary of its Portland Aluminium smelter.
 
The Portland facility was first termed ‘Smelter in the Park’ during the early 1990’s as the 500 hectares of land inside the plant boundaries was turned into wetlands and parklands complete with recreational trails and activities for the community and employees to enjoy.
 
Portland Operations Manager John Osborne said there have been many successes and challenges of managing such an ambitious project. 
 
“Over the 20-year life of the ‘Smelter in the Park’, we have effectively turned the land inside our plant boundaries into a rich haven for local flora and fauna. This has demonstrated that industry, community and the environment can coexist, but it has also provided new challenges for the company to manage in recent years,” said Mr Osborne.
 
“One such challenge is to understand the effects of low level fluoride emissions from the smelter on local fauna and, in particular, the eastern grey kangaroos that graze heavily close to the smelter.”
 
The company commissioned ongoing research into the local kangaroo population after the issue was highlighted in a paper published in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine in 2006.
 
While the research was underway, Portland Aluminium consulted experts in various fields to develop actions such as irrigation trials and habitat and landscape modification to discourage grazing close to the smelter.
 
Mr Osborne said that Portland Aluminium has also been incrementally reducing emissions and would integrate continuing research and input from relevant government agencies, interested community members and world renowned experts into a biodiversity action plan framework for the ‘Smelter in the Park.’
 
“This broad new plan will be aided by our 27-year partner, Greening Australia, which has been commissioned to conduct a community and stakeholder engagement program,” said Mr Osborne.
 
“It has always been Portland Aluminium’s commitment to accept the challenge of setting and meeting new benchmarks in environmental performance.
“The levels of fluoride measured in air near to the smelter are well within human health guideline values and Portland Aluminium is one of the lowest fluoride-emitting smelters in the world.


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WA Environment Minister Donna Faragher with Alcoa Managing Director Alan Cransberg



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Alan Cransberg with Margaret Matthews and Dr Kate Creed from the 'Friends of Wireless Hill' along with Jim Freemantle of the Swan River Trust