Representatives from eleven government, research and not-for-profit agencies met in Perth last month to discuss the different expertise and work agendas in the Kimberley’s Fitzroy River catchment.
The September meeting brought together known, primarily Perth-based stakeholders as part of a Rangelands NRM initiative to facilitate communication and leverage investments towards sustainable development and conservation of the Fitzroy River. This will be followed by a regional meeting in December to enable connections at both the local and strategic levels.
Northern Australia is considered to be environmentally significant on a world scale and the Fitzroy River is especially important as one of northern Australia’s largest and most significant free-flowing rivers.
The Fitzroy River Catchment area covers just under a quarter of the Kimberley region, or 95,000 km2 (more than 23 million acres). The Catchment includes all rivers, creeks and streams that feed into the Fitzroy River, including the Upper Fitzroy, Leopold River, Margaret River and Christmas Creek.
Rangelands NRM’s CEO Dr Gaye Mackenzie said the aim of this first meeting was to improve connections between the different stakeholders to facilitate information sharing, but with a view to finding opportunities to work together.
“By connecting people and coordinating communication between organisations and individuals we are aiming for the collective identification of linkages, gaps and opportunities,” she said.
“With the Kimberley meeting we hope to get a sense of the priorities and motivations of local stakeholders and how we might make connections between their work, and that of the government agencies and research organisations,” said Dr Mackenzie.
The Fitzroy River Catchment has been identified as a priority area with high environmental, socio- cultural and economic values by Rangelands NRM and several state and federal government agencies.
In 2010, Rangelands NRM commissioned the Fitzroy River Catchment Management Plan covering all aspects of the catchment including ecological and cultural assets, as well as the production needs of local industries. Based on the views of a wide a range of local stakeholders, it looks at how to minimise or eliminate threats to these assets.
Many groups and individuals from this area agreed that to protect the river, its Indigenous values, water quality, productivity and natural environment of the catchment it was important to develop a Catchment Management Plan.