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New Kimberley islands book

Kingfisher Island
Kingfisher Island Norm McKenzie, Parks and Wildlife

A new book on the biological values of the unique Kimberley islands will provide a sound foundation for their future management.

Department of Parks and Wildlife principal research scientist Dr Lesley Gibson said Biodiversity values on selected Kimberley islands provided an important knowledge-base for the planning of conservation management under the Kimberley Conservation and Science Strategy.

“The exceptionally beautiful islands of the Kimberley lie within one of the world’s last great wilderness areas,” Dr Gibson said.

“There are more than 2,500 mapped islands along this visually stunning coastline and they support many regionally endemic and threatened species.”

Dr Gibson said the book was a compilation of field surveys undertaken from 2007 to 2010 by scientists from Parks and Wildlife and the Western Australian Museum, in partnership with Balanggarra, Uunguu, Dambimangari, Mayala and Bardi-jawi traditional owners.

With a few exceptions, the Kimberley islands have remained almost free of invasive species and are less altered by fire compared to the adjacent mainland. However, this remote coastal region has seen increasing human activity in recent years, bringing a range of potential risks to the natural values of the Kimberley islands.

“The book documents the plant and animal species on 24 islands ranging in size from 300 to 19,000 hectares and focuses on taxonomic groups believed to be at risk from threats that exist on the Kimberley mainland such as the cane toad,” she said.

Dr Gibson said the publication’s scientific papers described island biogeographic patterns for each of the plant or animal groups that were surveyed, while another paper detailed Aboriginal connections, values and knowledge of the Kimberley islands.

“The final paper in the book integrates the biological data obtained during the surveys to identify common biogeographic patterns among the plant and animal groups, to help provide a basis for conservation priorities for the surveyed islands,” she said.

The Kimberley Islands Biodiversity Survey more than doubles the number of species known on several islands and provides the first biological data for seven other islands.

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Last modified on Friday, 02 October 2015 15:19