One of the greatest shows on earth has begun. Set in the near desert regions of Western Australia’s Mid-West, Gascoyne, Murchison and Pilbara regions, the colours have exploded:
Not many people realise but the Kwongan Heath country in the Midwest is one of the of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Whereas Europe and North America…
Our best wildflower season for many years
Western Australia is enjoying one of its best wildflower seasons ever, with tourists flocking to county areas to see flowers carpeting the state in colours so vivid that…
Check out more images at the links, especially that of Kwongan. Here is what Piers Verstegen wrote:
Not many people realise but the Kwongan Heath country in the Midwest is one of the of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Whereas Europe and North America have had the evolution of their flora species reset to near zero several times due to extended glacial periods, Western Australia is host to the longest unbroken evolution of plant species on the planet. You can literally see evolutionary history written in the landscape. Nutrient poor soils and continuous wet and dry cycles over millennia have produced an incredible array of adaptations, specialisation, and coping methods to fill every available ecological niche. There’s no better time than wildflower season (now) to experience this living laboratory, and people from all over the country the world come to experience the carpets of color and marvel at each unique specimen.
After several generations of land clearing to make way for wheat and sheep farming, there is very little of the original Kwongan Heath left remaining. Scientists such as Hans Lambers have been calling for this area to be World Heritage Listed for some time, but despite its global significance, incredible beauty and tourism values the area is now facing its greatest threat.
Deep below life-giving waters of the yarragadee aquifer lies a vast shale gas deposit known as the North Perth Basin. But gas is so tightly held that it can only be prized from the earth by smashing and fracturing the deep rocks where they lie sandwiched in the earths crust. This is to be achieved by drilling hundreds or even thousands of gas wells through the groundwater aquifer and pumping them with a cocktail of chemicals at extreme pressure to shatter the layer of shale stone where the gas is tapped.
A number of test wells have already been drilled including in the Lake Logue and Beekeepers nature reserves and on farmland a stones throw from the Leseuer National Park. With each new well gas companies try their luck, and test different methods and chemicals for extracting the gas. If this industry developed at commercial scale, not only would the gas fracking have a massive impact on the ancient ecology, it would produce massive greenhouse emissions that would accelerate our already changing climate.
The good news is we don’t need the gas, as renewable energy is growing faster than demand can keep up. The bad news is that the state government is subsidising the drilling by gas companies who are desperate to make a quick buck before gas fracking is banned or investors wake up the the risks and exit the industry.
The bumper wildflower season this year could not be coming at a better time to raise awareness of these issues. As WA heads towards an election, political parties will begin to tune into what voters want rather than what their corporate donors in the gas industry demand.
Check out ww.frackfreefuture.org.au and sign up to find out more or join the campaign to protect our unique and irreplaceable ecology from the threat of gas fracking.