Conserving the Cocanarup-Kundip Area

The Cocanarup Timber Reserve is 15 km south-west of Ravensthorpe and encompasses 9000 ha of native vegetation, including approximately 1000 ha of mature salmon gum woodland. It lies at the heart of a wider surrounding area of 65,000 ha of bushland stretching south to the Fitzgerald River National Park and east to the Ravensthorpe Range.

1 Proposed reserve showing Carnaby's foraging zones.jpg

This landscape forms a critical intact link between the National Parks and reserves of the south coast and the Great Western Woodlands. The area is largely undisturbed, with few tracks, limited human visitation and few weeds. Further, it is known to have significant natural and cultural heritage values, some of which are clearly of national importance.

However, lithium and other mineral exploration is now placing many of these values under threat. Mining tenements cover most of the area, and exploration activity undertaken recently has left disturbing scars, including substantial negative impacts in nesting habitat crucial to the endangered Carnaby’s Black-cockatoo. Indeed, Cocanarup is recognised by BirdLife Australia as being one of the three most important nesting sites for this bird anywhere in Western Australia (and therefore, world-wide).

2 Carnaby's in nest hollow.jpg

Teams of local residents have been monitoring nesting activity for 12 years now. They’ve plotted in excess of 150 nest trees, but there are many more with hollows of sufficient size which are yet to be examined. Carnaby’s require large and deep hollows – which makes the very old trees of this area supremely important.

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Ravensthorpe’s resident zoologist, Andy Chapman, with a recently trapped heath mouse, courtesy Jesse Brampton

The wider area is also home to a number of other threatened fauna species, including the Heath Mouse, the Chuditch, the Malleefowl, the Tammar wallaby and, possibly, the Numbat (released here in 2006-9).

The area has highly diverse vegetation. There are 13 eucalypt species which are endemic to the Ravensthorpe region and 6 of these occur in the proposed reserve area (Eucalyptus cernua, E. desmondensis, E. megacornuta, E. proxima, E. sp. Kundip and E. sp. Ravensthorpe).

Within the Cocanarup – Kundip area there are also patches of proteaceous heath, which form part of the nationally listed, endangered ecological community ‘Proteaceae dominated kwongkan shrublands of the southeast coastal floristic province of WA’. Advice from DBCA (Albany) indicates that there are 46 known Threatened and Priority flora species in the proposed reserve area, including one Threatened (DRF) species: Eremophila denticulata (subspecies denticulate), and ten Priority 1 species.

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The BBC filming the numbat release in Cocanarup, 2009, courtesy John Tucker.

The recently-formed Cocanarup Conservation Alliance Inc. (CCA) is dedicated to the full protection of the wider Cocanarup – Kundip area, beginning with the exclusion of all mining activities. Recently CCA prepared a detailed submission to government, the “Cocanarup – Kundip Class A Reserve Proposal”, which would see the area become National Park or Nature Reserve. This will be assessed through the “Plan for Our Parks” program but needs strong community support in order to be considered a priority.

To learn more about this proposal and support the submission* go to: Cocanarup Conservation Alliance Inc. website,
You’ll find an online membership form ( they do not charge membership fees) and a downloadable letter to Mark Webb, CEO of DBCA, and the Minister for the Environment. DBCA is listening—and every letter counts!

*The Club has been supporting CCA Inc in its aim to get the area listed as a Class A Reserve.