Projects

General

Following guidelines for best-practice contained within documents such as the Department of Environment and Conservation’s (now the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attraction's) Swan Estuary Reserve Management Plan 1999 – 2009, volunteers from SERAG Inc. work steadily to improve the health of three very important areas that have been set aside by the wider community for the protection of flora and fauna - Milyu, Alfred Cove and Pelican Point - and adjacent areas of remnant bushland and marine parks.

Their existance reflects the Swan River Trust's research into community values:

  • The natural areas along the river are really important and should be retained (95.6%), and
  • It is acceptable for certain parts of the river foreshore to be closed off for the protection and rehabilitation of the natural environment (92.5%).

With the approval of DBCA and with the particular needs of each site in mind, Projects are developed and applications for funding from various government and non-government bodies prepared and submitted. Funding is generally used to support weed-management, for the purchase of appropriate sedges, shrubs and trees for re-vegetation, and for educative signage to inform the community of the ecological values of the areas and how to care for them. On occasions we may apply for funding for such infrastructure as viewing platforms or fencing to reduce human impact on sensitive areas.

Most grants must be matched by an equal contribution from the recipient - in our case in volunteer labour - so effectively the worth of a grant to the environment is doubled.

Grants are used to foster the resilience of the reserves to environmental and community pressures. As the reserves are relatively small and the pressures large, natural restoration processes are often thwarted, requiring support through various bushcare initiatives.

Community education projects are similarly important, and over the years SERAG has organised a number of community events and displays to celebrate and encourage community knowlege and appreciation of these special areas. For example, the 2017 National Science Week event at Point Walter was organised to draw community attention to the superb natural values of the River - in particular the beach-nesting and migratory birdlife that relies of the Estuary as habitat.

SERAG becomes conscientiously involved in community consultation processes associated with management planning and review, periodically organised by managing authorities. When the need arises, SERAG will actively engage in advocacy in support of or against a particular issue that we believe impacts on the well-being of the natural values of the Swan River Estuary. We also initiate and contribute to relevant research projects.

The support of our membership and other community volunteers is vital to the success of these initiatives. Partnerships are developed between SERAG Inc and corporate sponsors, or with other environmental or educational groups to support these projects. Over the past few years many hundreds of school children, university students and corporate volunteers have joined with SERAG to contribute many thousands of hours caring for these unique and beautiful parts of the Swan River Estuary. As well, Conservation Volunteers Australia has often generously allocated part of the sponsorship they receive to support our efforts.

Understanding the importance of the sites, volunteers have willingly weeded, planted, mulched, installed fencing and erosion-mitigation structures, watered new plantings over hot summers, conducted guided tours and collected litter. We recognise that this is not easy work, so we are extremely encouraged by and grateful for such support.

As part of an on-going care for each Reserve, different teams of volunteers meet weekly, fortnightly or monthly to devote a few hours to removing weeds such as fleabane and wild radish, collecting litter, planting or other appropriate seasonal activity.

Other volunteers are very welcome to join these teams, so please contact SERAG Inc. if you can help.

Current Projects

Alfred Cove

SERAG Inc. is supporting both the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and the City of Melville to manage and restore large sections of the Alfred Cove A-Class Reserve and adjacent areas of remnant bushland - which together form part of Bush Forever Site 331 - through a regular commitment from volunteers and through particular projects for which we have sought funding.

We have recently concluded a survey of the coastal saltmarsh community bordering the Marine Park and undertake monthy collections of bird data.

A 2018 grant through DBCA is assisting us restore part of the very narrow margin of A-Class Reserve along the Attadale foreshore - a site abutting land used once as a rubbish dump and now an expanse of kikuyu for exercising dogs - heavily degraded with a plethora of seasonal and woody weeds, including Juncus acutis. A small grant from NRM is assisting in the treatment and replacement of weeds, including a large outbreak of Carex divisa on the Tompkins Park foreshore.

As in other areas bordering the Marine Park, the riparian margin is very narrow and susceptible to erosive forces associate with climate change. Given there is the easy possibility of widening the margin, and thus strengthening its resilience, we are advocating for a comprehensive plan to be developed to secure the future well-being of the Swan Estuary Marine Park and the rich cultural and natural heritage values treasured by the wider community. 

SERAG is extremely pleased that a proposal approved by the City of Melville to build an artificial surfing facility at Tompkins Park has been unsuccessful. However we remain concerned that the Crown Land on which part was to be built has not yet been drawn into the Conservation Estate, as has been recommended since the formation of the Swan Estuary Marine Park. 

With its effect on benthic health and resultant impacts on birdlifeand other native fauna, are also liaising with managing authorities to encourage the improvement in the quality of stormwater draining into the Marine Park thorough the use of 'living streams'.

Milyu

Over recent years SERAG Inc. has worked closely with DBCA to restore and strengthen this highly vulnerable A-Class Nature Reserve next to the Kwinana Freeway in South Perth.

SERAG is supporting a long-term project to address erosion at Milyu by assisting in planting activities. 

Our regular bushcare activities, with an emphasis on monthly litter collections, have been suspended due to major Freeway infrastucture works. We look forward to returning to the site as the site is highly exposed to rubbish from storm-water drains, freeway traffic and recreational boating and fishing.

Pelican Point

Funding has supported a long-term bushcare commitment to that part of Bush Forever Site 402 under the care of DBCA. This involves steadily replacing endemic weeds with native vegetation, installing matting planted with sedges to manage erosion from boat-wash and winter storms, and communication strategies to inform the wider community of the enormous importance of the Reserve.

Of critical importance has been the development of a comprehensive weed-management and bush-restoration plan that guides the steady improvement of  vegetation which provides habitat for both local and migratory birds.

Apart from its small size and general degradation, increasing human disturbance has a concerning impact on the well-being of this Reserve.There has recently been a large increase in the number of people, often with their unrestrained dogs, walking or jogging along the beach and up into the vegetation. Unfortunately they are not only disturbing resting and foraging birds, but are also accidentally treading on their nests, which may be simple shallows in the beach sand. Kite-surfers too, who inadvertently stray into the Reserve have significantly discouraged use of the beach by waders, who confuse them with large predatory birds.

Community information strategies and infrastructure improvements will hopefully help to redress this problem, as we are confident that it arises principally through a lack of public awareness.

Erosion is currently a major threat to the terrestrial section of the Marine Park.

We are fortunate to have developed close ties with students studying at the University of Western Australia, which is adjacent to Pelican Point. Monthly bushcare sessions are organised and well-attended by students.

Funding through the Swan Alcoa Landcare Program (SALP) has seen the steady improvement in the health of the vegetation and of the installation of a nesting platform for resident osprey. The platform was designed and constructed by local sculptor Tony Jones, using a light pole donated by DBCA. 

Artificial nesting boxes for micro-bats and Striated Pardalotes have been installed - with great success.

Current efforts are supported by funding from the Swan Alcoa Landcare Program.

Future Projects

As there is much to be done in the three A-Class Reserves in the Swan River Estuary, as well as in adjacent areas that impact on or support the health of the Reserves, SERAG Inc. will continue to facilitate restoration projects through the contribution of  volunteer work and the mobilization of other community resources.

This year, as part of our community education commitment we have launched The Overwintering Project: Summer on the Swan.

This will be a year-long focus on the needs of trans-equatorial migratory wading birds that travel over 12,000 kms from the Actic each year to the coastal saltmarsh, shallows and mudflats of the Swan Estuary Marine Park, then return, with a view to protecting both the birds and this vital habitat.

As series of opportunites for community members to learn about the natural values of the Estuary will be organised, and, working collaboratively with the Printmakers Association of Western Australia the year will conclude with an exhibition of artist' works focussing on the migratory birds and their habitat needs. 

Please consider devoting some time to our conservation efforts.