The Beeliar Wetlands

The Threats – the Roe Highway Extension (Stage 8)

The photo above show the impact of the Roe Highway Stage 8 road reserve on the precious wetlands of North Lake and Bibra Lake. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has already made it clear that this is not acceptable, as stated below.

2003 EPA report Bulletin 1088, highlights the ecological values of North Lake & Bibra Lake

“the EPA concludes that any proposal for the construction of the alignment of Roe Highway Stage 8 through the Beeliar Regional Park would be extremely difficult to be made environmentally acceptable.”

and that:

“the EPA is of the opinion that the overall impacts of construction within the alignment, or any alignment through the Beeliar Regional Park in the vicinity of North Lake and Bibra Lake, would lead to the ecological values of the area as a whole being diminished in the long-term. Every effort should be made to avoid this…”

Acid Sulphate Soils

Acid sulphate soils are naturally occurring and common around wetlands. They do not pose a problem unless disturbed and exposed to air after which they may turn to sulphuric acid – a serious risk to the environment. Sulphuric acid may then leach heavy metals from the soil.  Drain realignment during construction of Roe8 is in an area at high risk for acid soils and is likely to expose them.  Acid sulphate remediation is difficult and uncertain in terms of outcomes. The Beeliar wetlands are too important to be exposed to unnecessary risks.

Water

Roe8 will be constructed in the water catchment area for Bibra Lake, North Lake, the Beeliar swamps and other wetlands beyond . Cars and petrol cause hydrocarbon and heavy metal contamination of roads. A freeway through a wetland poses a high risk of long term contamination.

Our Park, Our Future

The wetlands of Bibra Lake and North Lake lie at the heart of the Beeliar Regional Park. At a time when many of us have become disconnected from nature, the Bibra Lake and North Lake wetlands and reserves provide an irreplaceable refuge, not just for plants and animals but also for our ever-increasing population.

The Bibra Lake and North Lake Reserves serve a wide variety of ecological and social functions. The area is unique for several reasons:

  • It spans 384 hectares, making it larger than Kings Park bushland.
  • It is home to more than 220 plant species and 123 bird species including the endangered Carnaby’s Cockatoo and peregrine falcon.
  • A myriad of other animal species including bandicoots, several species of bats, brushtailed possums, and dozens of reptiles and amphibians, including 9 species of frogs, also inhabit the area.

The preservation of these reserves is not just important for plants and animals: it’s important for people too. These facilities provide physical and psychological benefits to the public. It is becoming increasingly evident that access to natural areas contributes a great deal to the well being of the community.

Bibra Lake

The Bibra Lake area has a number of remarkable features:

  • The Cockburn Wetlands Education Centre – This lies on the Northern edge of Bibra Lake. The centre is a community organisation that involves many volunteers and in 2009 the centre was awarded the overall sustainability award for the City of Cockburn. The centre is heavily involved with revegetation through the reserves and offers a full range of preschool to tertiary educational activities
  • Community facilities – This precinct is also home for the Native Animal Rehabilitation Centre and the 1st Bibra Lake Scouts, a large and active group.
  • Recreation areas – On the western side of Bibra Lake are several children’s playgrounds, BBQs and picnic shelters. A survey of users revealed that visitors from all over the metropolitan area use these facilities, so it is not just a local asset.
  • Sporting areas – Adjacent to the recreational area is a chipping range for the golf enthusiasts. Watch out for purple swamp hens though! On the eastern side of Bibra Lake is a skate park and a dual use path runs around the entire lake covering a distance of more than 7km.

North Lake

North Lake is suited to more leisurely pursuits with a walking track around its perimeter. The North Lake reserve puts on a spectacular display of wildflowers in spring and the wetland is very popular with nesting swans.

Find out more about the unique bird life or join our walking group to experience the beauty and serenity of area for yourself.

What are the Beeliar Wetlands

Beeliar Wetlands is the name given to two chains of wetlands that extend from Blue Gum Lake in the City of Melville, through the City of Cockburn to the Spectacles in the Town of Kwinana.

Some of the features that make Beeliar Wetlands so valuable to the community include:

  • Cultural and historical significance – The name Beeliar comes from the original group of Noongar people who lived in the area from the Swan and Canning Rivers down to Mangles Bay in Rockingham. North Lake and the area between North Lake and Bibra Lake are of great significance to the local Noongar people, in a mythological and archaeological context.
  • The diversity of water – The wetlands were formed thousands of years ago in the depressions between ancient sand dunes, creating a surface expression of water. The western chain of wetlands is saline because of its proximity to the ocean while the eastern chain is fresh.
  • International recognition – Thomson’s Lake, part of the eastern chain, is a Ramsar Wetland, part of an intergovernmental treaty for the protection of internationally significant wetlands.
  • A delicate equilibrium – The wetlands work together to provide ongoing habitat for a variety of wildlife. For example, when North Lake loses its water, swans will escort their developing cygnets to Bibra Lake. Later in the season, birds from many of the lakes move to Yangebup Lake where water remains. Similarly, large numbers of Australian ibis spend their days feeding at North Lake but then return to Booragoon Lake to roost at night.Similarly the ‘dry’ bushland and wetlands work in concert to provide habitat for many species. For example the banjo frog lives in the bushland and then moves to the wetlands to breed.
  • Extensive recreational facitilites – Bibra Lake in particular offers great value to the community with facilities for passive recreation including bushwalking, picnics, and bird-watching.

Find out more about what you can do to save Beeliar Wetlands.

Special Plants and Animals of the Beeliar Wetlands

Carnaby’s Cockatoo: an endangered species

The Carnaby’s Cockatoo is a striking black cockatoo found exclusively in the south-west corner of Western Australia. It is listed as a nationally endangered species.
Sadly, the gradual destruction of their natural habitat had seen the number of Carnaby’s Cockatoos in WA decrease by at least 50% over the past 45 years.  Now the Great Cocky Count of 2011 has produced the devastating news that their numbers  have decreased even more – by one third compared to last year at roost sites across the Greater Swan Region.
Carnaby’s Cockatoos breed mainly in the inland agricultural areas, but spend from early summer to autumn nearer to the coast. Their main food source and roosting areas are on the Swan coastal plain in Banksia and Eucalypt woodland, including the Beeliar Wetland  A drastic effect of Roe8 will be the loss of 79 hectares of Banksia woodland.

Carnaby’s have at least 12 known roosting sites within 6km of the planned highway.
To be useful a roosting site needs to be within 10-12km of foraging areas.    We know that the wetlands are an important feeding area with flocks of up to 70 being seen there. BIbra and North lake reserves are key potential nesting sites for Carnaby Cockatoos in the metropolitan region. The bush to be cleared contains 249 potential nest trees – a valuable resource which may become crucial for them as remnant woodland continues to be lost elsewhere on the Swan plain.

Carnaby’s have a highly structured social order. They mate for life and return to the same areas to breed – usually the area where the female was hatched.  During nesting the female does not forage. She and the chick are fed entirely by the male for at least 6 weeks and so are totally dependent. Having feeding areas within 20km, preferably 12km, is critical to breeding success.

The clearing of Banksia woodland at Fiona Stanley Hospital and at Jandakot Airport has already reduced the available feeding areas.  These magnificent birds need our help to save their remaining habitat.

Bird life in the Beeliar Wetlands

Both Bibra Lake and North Lake are a constantly changing scene of bird life.

As well as providing one of the last remaining natural habitats for the endangered Carnaby’s Cockatoo, other bird species come and go according to the seasons and the water level. The lakes are seasonal wetlands, so they will usually dry out in summer. This fluctuation in water level allows for a greater variety of bird life to use the lakes. The creatures that live in the lake water are all adapted to survive the dry period.

The waders, for example, move in as the water is receding, while diving birds such as the Blue billed duck move out at this time.

The wetlands and bushland host migratory birds from near and far. The beautiful Rainbow Bee Eater breeds in the North Lake reserve by making a long underground tunnel in the sand. These birds then spend the winter in the warmth of northern Australia or even Papua New Guinea and eastern Indonesia.

The lakes also host several species migrating from the northern hemisphere including the Common Green Shank.

Find out how you can join our campaign to help protect these amazing birds, or join our walking group to experience the area for yourself.