Roe-8 is ditched for good

The+McGowan+government+announced+that+the+Beeliar+wetlands+are+now+protected.

The McGowan government announced that the Beeliar wetlands are now protected.

Brianna Melville, Reporter

Those who have been campaigning to save the Beeliar wetlands are celebrating the end of the war over Roe-8, but many say there now needs to be more focus on other areas that still need protection.

The State Government has announced that the wetlands are now part of an “A-class conservation reserve,” meaning that the area is permanently protected from the Liberal’s Perth Freight Link project.

This marks the end of a 5-year campaign to “rethink the link,” which had gained the support of over 12,000 every-day Western Australians.

Administrator for the Cockburn Community Wildlife Corridor Facebook page and Beeliar resident, Louise Corteen, says the group is “thrilled.”

“It’s another step taken to protect the banksia woodlands and the wetlands and damp lands … I’d say that all of our members are ecstatic to have another piece of the puzzle in place to protect it for future generations.”

Residents emphasise the area should be protected for its vast biodiversity, but they also regard it as an important community hub. Many enjoy the land for bush walking and Cockburn Community Wildlife Corridor holds regular bush care events there, including workshops on weeding, tree-planting, mapping and bird identification.

“There’s quite a lot of education that happens on that land,” says Corteen.

“There’s so much research demonstrating the positive impacts of nature on mental health so I know that for a lot of our members … that could be part of it, because they find a lot of peace, and the bush helps them feel good.”

Coordinator of community group Rethink The Link, Kim Dravnieks, says the reserve classification is the long-awaited result of continued campaigning by passionate residents.

In the protests leading up to the state election, Dravnieks says thousands of people from all kinds of backgrounds came to lend their support to the cause.

“We had a doctor that would come down from Joondalup every day before his surgery. He would come down at 6 o’clock, and be back for surgery at 9 o’clock, to give his support for stopping Roe 8 from going through, so [there was a] great variety of demographics.”

Dravnieks also credits the actions of local governments and ministers for their support, offering “a huge congratulations, gratefulness and appreciation” for their work in creating the A-class conservation reserve.

Despite the strong support, it seems saving the wetlands is one giant leap for the Labor government but one small step for conservation.

Online community and environment groups have been quick to point out that while ditching Roe 8 is to be commended, there are many more areas of land in WA that are being endangered by infrastructure developments.

As Corteen put it, “we have to say congratulations, thank you very much, but also please keep going. Here’s what’s next on our list.”

That list includes the proposed Bunbury Outer Ring Road though the Gelorup wildlife corridor, a proposed oil and gas facility near by the Ningaloo reef in Exmouth and proposed UWA housing construction on Underwood Avenue Park bushland.