Friday, January 30, 2015

Ken Newbey's report

Ken Newbey, a farmer who became a plant ecologist, had made a study of the soils, geomorphology and vegetation of the vacant Crown Land north of the then Fitzgerald River National Park in 1976, while he was a mature age student at Murdoch University. The goal of the study was to evaluate two conflicting land uses: agriculture and conservation.

In  1982, with some updating, he sent a version of the report to the Working Group on Land Releases, as well as to relevant politicians and Government Departments. It was the only detailed report on this area available at the time.

The diagrams below, taken from the report, show the area in question which sits between Old Ongerup Road and the existing Fitzgerald River National Park. Conservation values were estimated by Ken based on his initial surveys. It can be seen that he thought at this stage that both conservation and agriculture could be realistically accommodated in this area. However he also emphasized the need for further surveys before a land use final decision.

Later as more detailed information was determined about the Swamp Parrot (Western Ground Parrot) - its scarcity, presence in some of the land he had considered suitable for farming, and its requirements, as well as the high risk of erosion of some of the soils if the vegetation were to be cleared, Ken changed his view.

Below are two fragments of the text of the report which was entitled 'North Fitzgerald Land Use survey'.

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