What makes the Kimberley special?
What makes the Kimberley so special?
The Kimberley has some of the largest intact natural areas left on the planet - comparable with the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest. The Kimberley's beauty is matched only by its enormous diversity – with wild coasts and seas, islands, deserts, sandstone hills and gorges, mangroves, rainforests and savannahs.
The Kimberley is also a culturally rich region, where Traditional Owners have a strong connection to country. Indigenous rangers now use a combination of traditional knowledge and modern science to manage fires and keep the country healthy. The ranger program is recognised around the world as transformative for peoples’ lives and for nature.
A refuge for wildlife
The Kimberley coast is the nursery for the world’s largest humpback whale population. 35,000 whales visit each year, to give birth and prepare their calves for the journey back to summer feeding grounds in Antarctica.
The region is one of the last remaining healthy refuges of significant size in the world for many threatened and endangered marine species, including dugong, six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles, and numerous species of sharks, dolphins and fish, including the freshwater sawfish. The coastal areas also offer sanctuary for many species of native mammals that have disappeared from the rest of Australia.
A legacy of protection
Since 2008, there has been strong bipartisan political support for protecting the Kimberley coast in a Great Kimberley Marine Park and good progress has been made.
In March 2015, 100 marine scientists signed a statement recognising the pristine nature of the Kimberley’s coastal waters and calling for a world-class network of marine sanctuaries to protect them. Tourism businesses have also supported increased protection.
During the public consultations on the most recent marine parks at Roebuck Bay, Horizontal Falls and the North Kimberley, over 50,000 submissions were made calling for greater protection, breaking all previous records. The opportunity now exists to complete the Great Kimberley Marine Park – a marine asset for WA that will rival the Great Barrier Reef.
CREATING A FUTURE FOR THE KIMBERLEY
Progress has been made in protecting the Kimberley, but the job's not finished. In March 2017, WA Labor came into government with a promise to continue protecting the Kimberley, and has now begun work on their important new election commitments.
This includes creating a Buccaneer Archipelago Marine Park and protecting the Fitzroy River with a Fitzroy River National Park and management plan for the river. They have also committed to a mosaic of National Parks in the Kimberley.
Securing the long-term protection and management of the spectacular coast, rivers, ranges and islands of the Kimberley will be a great legacy for the future of Western Australia.