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State Barrier Fence

Western Australia's Environmental Idiocy

BirdLife Australia (BirdLife Partner) has joined an alliance of conservation groups calling on the West Australian government to halt its plans to extend the State Barrier Fence. Construction of the fence extension in the Esperance region would create a largely continuous barrier that would run through five bioregions from North of Geraldton to Cape Arid.

BirdLife Australia has many serious concerns about this proposal, including concerns that the WA Government made a commitment to build the fence prior to the completion of appropriate socio-economic and environmental studies.

However our major concerns relate to the potential ecological impacts of the fence, particularly where the fence will cut through the Great Western Woodlands, separating 300,000 ha of contiguous bush from the main woodland block.

BirdLife Australia Conservation Manager Jenny Lau said that the fence may lead to the death of thousands of emus in migration years, prevent dingo re-establishment and destroy at least 1000 hectares of bushland.

At a time when most governments are working to improve wildlife corridors, the WA government’s plans to create a massive wildlife barrier, deliberating fragmenting the world’s largest remaining intact temperate woodland, is both puzzling and disturbing.

Please help us Stop and Rethink the Fence by taking action now: http://ccwa.org.au/stopthefenceBackground

The Western Australian Government has commenced a program to upgrade and extend the State Barrier Fence. Once known as the Rabbit Proof Fence, the 1,170 km State Barrier Fence runs from near Kalbarri to Ravensthorpe and is designed to stop emus, dingoes and feral dogs from moving onto nearby farms in the wheatbelt. The program raises significant ecological and animal welfare issues and should not proceed. Tens of thousands of emus die on the fence in migration years when they move southwards towards the coast. The fence will also stop kangaroos, Dingoes, Echidnas and Black-gloved Wallabies and hinder the movement of other wildlife.

The most significant part of the current program is a 500 to 730 km extension of the fence from Ravensthorpe to Cape Arid. This ‘Esperance extension’ will mean that the State Barrier Fence would, for larger wildlife, essentially cut the south west of Australia off from the rest of the Australian continent.

Environmental groups are calling on the Government to stop the current program and redirect funding already allocated to the program to find less cruel, and more environmentally friendly means of managing wildlife and feral dogs on the interface between farms and the Great Western Woodlands.

Existing and proposed sections of the State Barrier Fence would significantly restrict wildlife movement across the south west of Australia. It will have a significant impact on the southern extent of the Great Western Woodlands.

The Stop and Rethink the fence campaign is supported by the Conservation Council of Western Australia, Gondwana Link, The Wilderness Society, BirdLife Australia, Pew Environment Group Australia, and Wildflower Society of Western Australia.

4th July 2014