EDITORIAL INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY CLINTON O’BRIEN
The Fitzgerald River National Park is 329,882 hectares in size, making it one of the largest in Australia. Bordering ‘the Fitz’ are the seaside towns of Bremer Bay to the west, and Hopetoun to the east. The farming communities of Jerramungup and Ravensthorpe are located inland, on the northern edge of the park, inside the biosphere’s zone of cooperation
In 1978 the park and surrounding area was gazetted under UNESCO’s internationally recognised ‘Man and Biosphere’ program. It is one of two Biosphere reserves in Western Australia (the other being Prince Regent Nature Reserve in the Kimberley) and 14 in the whole country. The park is designated as the ‘core area’ of the Fitzgerald Biosphere Reserve.
The Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife reports that there are 1,748 identified plant species in the Fitz, which represents almost 20 per cent of the State’s described plant species. Seventy five species are endemic to the park, a further 48 are seldom found anywhere else and 250 species are listed as rare.
The park is home to 22 species of mammal, including the Heath Rat (Pseudomys shortridgei), which was believed to be extinct before its rediscovery in the Ravensthorpe Range in 1987, and the Dibbler (Parantechinus apicalis), also thought extinct in Western Australia but re-discovered in 1967 at Cheynes Beach to the west of the park. Since 1985, surveys within the park have consistently found Dibblers in long-unburnt heathland and mallee shrubland.
Until 2012, the Fitzgerald River National Park maintained one of the few remaining populations of the critically endangered Western Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris). Recent surveys have failed to find evidence that the population still persists.
Of the 200 bird species recorded in the park, other threatened species include the Western Bristlebird (Dasyornis longirostris), the Western Whipbird (Psophodes nigrogularis nigrogularis), the Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) and the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris).
Fitzgerald River National Park was included in the National Heritage List on 6 May 2016 for its outstanding diversity of native plant species, including many plants which are unique to the local area.
The Fitzgerald Biosphere has retained international significance after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation approved the site as a biosphere reserve.
Information kindly supplied by