Forty years after the National Geographic magazine shone a spotlight on the South West’s wild gardens, a local environmental doctor wants more to be done to protect unique local ecosystems.
The original story, by American biologist Paul A Zahl noted South Western Australia was ‘splendidly isolated’ and ‘home to one of nature’s most fantastic displays of flora’. “Undisturbed by botanical intrusions, the region’s 6,500 plant species have developed in strange and astounding directions," Dr Zahl wrote.
“Many of the species belong to plant families found in other parts of the would but using the common stock of earth’s floral resources, nature has shown a sorcerer’s hand in weaving a finespun tapestry.”
Dr Bernhard Bischoff moved to Bunbury in 1975 and said he was immediately struck by the beauty and variety found in the environment of the South West.
“I have a rich background in natural science and realised early on it was a special area,” he said. “I then spent the next 30 years locked in battles to ensure sections of the bushland were designated as nature reserves and left undeveloped.”
Dr Bischoff said the wild gardens captured by National Geographic are now under threat from a number of factors including weeds, overpopulation of kangaroos, industrial developments and machinery access creating havoc. “The whole community needs to learn what potentially exists in Bunbury and how little is left of the wild gardens,” he said.
“People care about the animals but vegetation needs consideration too as it is a vital part of the ecosystem – there would be no animals without it.
“Aggressive weeds which have been left over a number of years are overrunning these areas and need to be given the attention they deserve.”
Dr Bischoff has prepared a list of questions for Thursday night’s City of Bunbury annual electors meeting on this topic which he feels deserves greater awareness and shared responsibility.
“I want to know what the council’s budget for weed control and bushland management is and whether they have considered a levy to raise the funds required for effective weed control given the bushland is every resident’s heritage and should be everyone’s concern.”
The annual electors meeting will be held from 5.30pm on Thursday in the City of Bunbury function room.
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