Summary of WA Karst Conservation and Management Issues

The "summary" from 2007 is still accurate and continues to relate to 2008 – with little progress on outstanding conservation/cave and karst management issues. However we could also add that there has been some further positive and forward progress in other areas. Both the Federal and State Government are being more active in seeking to document karst values. The Federal Government is preparing a submission to nominate the Cape Range karst/Ningaloo Reef for World Heritage Listing. Additionally, the Federal Government is progressing its National Heritage listings and review of karst sites – as such, it is likely that speleologists will be involved further in the protection of caves and karst systems in WA.

Of note is that the State Government has made some positive gains in several ways. The Department for Environment and Conservation (DEC) has circulated (currently it is an internal document and yet to be made public) a draft policy on karst in the state, and this is great to see. The Government also continued to fund a project officer for the Hidden Treasures project for most of 2008. Several of us, have been involved in key issues, at a personal level, depending on our roles at the time. Rob has been employed as the Hidden Treasures research/project officer, assisting speleo’s and DEC to work in partnership in relation to karst management. Jay gave a presentation to the EPA early in the year, which was well received. During August, Jay organised a multi-agency karst forum – where there was a presentation of the NSW model (Karst and Geodiversity Unit of the Department of Environment and Climate Change) and extensive discussion and support for a State karst officer. The special meeting involved discussion on karst management in WA, and included several karst management experts and local Officers (DEC, DPI) and speleologists. It was a positive meeting, with several outcomes discussed.

Due to a lack of volunteer time this year, and other personal commitments, we have been unable to conduct any public presentations or displays under the ASF Conservation Commission. However, there has been similar relevant activity organised at a local level, with members of the speleological groups being involved in the annual Children’s Groundwater festival and National Science Week. During August 2008, members of Cavers Leeuwin co-ordinated a "caves day" which involved displays at the National Park caves and community education. The Conservation Commission, through key involvement of local speleologists, will continue involvement in public education, through community displays, participation in community events and presentations.

Jay Anderson Rob Susac Jeff Murray

1. South of Perth:

1A Cave Management & karst issues, Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park (L.N.N.P.)

We are still waiting for the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park Management plan (1989-1999) to be updated and released for public comments. The Cave Management Advisory Committee (CMAC.) continues to meet to advise the DEC on cave management issues. This process continues to work really well and various projects are undertaken regularly - involving local speleological members. Speleologists continue to support DEC in cave protection and in an advisory capacity.

There is still a significant need for thorough interagency consultation and communication, including liaison with speleological groups. It is hoped that improved future communication on karst management issues will lead to further research on the areas karst system.

The local speleological group, Cavers Leeuwin, organised a community event for National Science week in August – in partnership with DEC and CCG (Cape to Cape catchment group). Local speleologists continue to be involved in on-ground conservation works (such as cave restoration, removal of debris from caves and trackmarking) and cave management. In addition, several local speleologists in a personal capacity are on the organising committee for the next ACKMA conference, to be held in Margaret River in May 2009.

1B Karst in the Mandurah/Peel Region

There is no specific management of the karst system that lies south of Perth and adjacent to the Dawesville Estuary. Further work needs to be undertaken in this area, including determining land tenure for sites and the "plan" for caves and reserves in the area. There is also a need for public education. The status of many caves in relation to land development in the area is unclear. This needs to be determined as a matter of priority.

2. To the East:

2A The Nullarbor

As reported on in previous reports, the ASF and local WA speleological groups have continued to be involved in the project - aimed at protecting the biodiversity of the Nullarbor Karst. This has involved the progression of plans and projects through the Natural Resource Management (NRM) group for the Nullarbor and in consultation with DEC. There has been extensive involvement of the ASF in the planning process, over a number of years. This has involved considerable liaison between various ASF members with knowledge skills and experience of the Nullarbor and of karst management. The project has progressed well with the compilation of a final report on the values and management issues for the Nullarbor. The Interim Management Guidelines are yet to be finalised and publically released (for an official consultation period) – at which time, other ASF members will be consulted in the development of the document.

Cocklebiddy cave is still closed by management. The land manager responsible is in the process of developing some interpretation signage at this site, including liaison with a WA Co-Convenor.

The ASF continues to advocate for the need for World Heritage Listing for the Nullarbor. This is an important opportunity for ACKMA and ASF to partner together in raising the awareness of the Nullarbor and in discussing karst values with the Government. It is anticipated that ASF members will continue to have involvement in consultation regarding the management of the Nullarbor.

2B South Coast Management Plan

There has been no progress on the Regional management plan (1992-2002).

3. North of Perth:

3A Yanchep National Park:

We are still awaiting the release of the draft Yanchep National Park Management plan (1989-

1999). There has been further speleological input in management plan drafts, with liaison between the Department of Environment and Conservation and local speleologists, primarily through YCAC. The draft plan has been scheduled for public comment by the end of 2008. The Yanchep National Park Caves Advisory Committee (YCAC) continues to meet bi-monthly to discuss local karst issues. We still recommend that this area needs a specific "cave manager" as a matter of priority. There is a need for an integrated approach to management in the area. Speleologists continue to work closely with Park staff: providing advice on cave and karst management issues and assisting with local projects. It is understood that there are plans to alter the lighting in Crystal Cave, to remove the lampenflora and to upgrade the in-cave infrastructure.

The status and condition of the Threatened Ecological Community (TEC) remains unknown. To date, the State Government project to artificially supplement the caves has not been operational or successful. This issue was the topic of discussion during the recent ISSB (International Symposium of Subterranean Biology), and the future of the sites is unclear.

3B Carabooda Area:

There has been no further progress on the issue of the planned road in the Alkimos Area (as reported in the 2005 report). It remains of great concern that there is a road planned to go straight over a number of significant caves. This issue needs more time to progress (to a resolution) than is currently available to those volunteers involved. This whole area needs significant community education about karst.

3C Two Rocks & Wanneroo Area:

Although, the City of Wanneroo Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) continue to meet, there has been little further focus on karst issues. The EAC committee plays an important role and can assist in raising the profile of karst in the area. The EAC has recently revised their policy, however it no longer highlights karst as a key issue. It is very disappointing to see that the proposal to "Develop a Caves and Karstic Features Policy" has been dropped and is no longer seen as important. This was initiated during 2006 and 2006, but never completed, and had utilised a significant amount of effort. At the time it was excellent that the Council was committed to the policy. There are continual requests for advice, from local residents and also other Government agency’s - yet nothing is in concrete within the local government agency, for the processing of information and the restriction to development in this karst area.

Speleologists were involved in highlighting the importance of karst in the maintenance of a sustainable healthy environment at the yearly Children’s Groundwater Festival 2007 held at Whiteman Park.

Development subdivisions continue to occur, however it seems that although speleologists can be involved in karst assessments, this is not given the required policy framework for implementation. Development continues to occur and there has been an increase in the number of requests for karst assessment. Speleologists receive regular requests that involve a significant amount of volunteer time to resolve. This shows a need in the community and an opportunity for the State Government to support our future ‘vision’ for karst management in WA.

3D Coastal Karst – Lancelin to Geraldton - including Jurien/Cervantes:

The "Hidden Treasures" Project (from the 2006 report) concluded in 2008. As a result of this project, greater liaison has occurred with DEC, speleologists and private landowners. A final report was compiled which will be a significant key reference for the area. Some key issues arising from investigation in this area include;

The bat slot in the gate at 6E-24 has been increased in size as recommended by the report.

This cave was found to contain the highest overall natural values of caves throughout the Northern Agricultural Region and should receive prioritization in regards to conservation efforts. 6E-22 came in second highest in natural values and is located on private land.

Interpretive signage should be implemented at various highly visited cave sites such as 6E-

3, 6E-24, 6SH-17 & 6J-2 as priority locations. This information should focus on the risks of visitation, the sensitivities of the site and the potential impact on features and fauna such as bats, particularly between mid September to January for maternity sites. Other information could be site specific or provide contact information for ASF affiliated clubs.

A high degree of interest was indicated by International biologists interested in pursuing research into stygofauna found at 6SH-17 (amphipods) and 6M-1 (syncarids/copepods). Terrestrial fauna that also sparked continued interest included meenoplids from Nambung NP and a cixiid from East Moore River.

As the declining water levels in coastal cave systems reflect the broader water shortage crisis, it is imperative to monitor stream caves as early warning systems that demonstrate the stress or ecological that will be reflected in the wider environment. Dr Pauline Treble is investigating climatic patterns through mass spectrometry of oxygen isotopes and trace element concentrations in stalagmite sections. This has been done in the southwest but there is a strong case for this investigation to be expanded into the NAR. Research into climate history sourced from speleothems should be supported where there is an appropriate specimen available. Although this is not directly associated with cave conservation, the work highlights the importance of caves as time capsules of information and demonstrates how caves can act as a litmus test for broader ecological health.

Public liaison and talks about the caves and there sensitivities was undertaken in the form of public talks that were held at Jurien Bay (to over 50 people from both local and afar (which was more than had been expected!) and the Geraldton Museum (58 people), which was again the highest turnout for any of the information sessions to date. A presentation was also delivered at the International Symposium of Subterranean Biology 2008. All these were well received. Articles were written for the local paper known as the Advocate and in the NACC Targeted Investment Program newsletter; NACC Tip Bits.

Further work that has been recommended includes an expansion of wetland monitoring to include stygofauna and subterranean terrestrials where applicable. Also the cooperation between speleologists and government departments for projects that incorporate data basing for planning, ecological monitoring and bio-inventory.

The discussions with National Park/State Government regarding the management of Drover’s Cave has been on hold due to a number of issues, and will continue to be progressed. The rehabilitation work at the entrance of Drovers Cave (6J-2) is yet to be undertaken as appropriate gate replacement was not an option and complete rehabilitation of the entrance area was widely considered as the best way forward. A recent donation means that plans for the gate change are now possible and management of this site will be discussed in collaboration between speleologists and DEC.

3E Cape Range:

The Cape Range National Park Management plan (1987-1997) has been in the process of review for some time. The Management plan was finalised in early 2007. Additionally, as noted in previous reports, the A.S.F. case regarding proposed mining leases on the Cape Range has not yet been concluded (although finalised in the Wardens Court in Perth (11/2000). The Government (Minister for Mines) has STILL to make the final decision regarding the granting of the mining leases. The A.S.F. will continue to request the removal of the strategic limestone mining purpose from the proposed 5(h) reserve. In addition, the Government advisory committee for this area, still needs speleological representation/expertise.

Speleologists continue to raise the importance of the World Heritage nomination to the Government. The A.S.F. has continued to advocate that the Cape Range is a significant karst area that needs such protection and recognition. It has taken the Government several years to progress the plans to nominate the Cape Range for World Heritage Status. A special Government committee made recommendations on the proposed boundary’s, however it is understood that this has not been resolved.

3F The Kimberley – FAR north:

The caves and karst of the Kimberley are of considerable international significance, yet there is still no progress on karst management for this region. It is our belief that the area’s current land management regime does not adequately provide for the reservation and protection of important karst features. This area needs appropriate karst management, in particular an "integrated management" focus (see the 2005 report for more information). The National Heritage List may be an appropriate mechanism for recognising the areas "outstanding" values.

4. Public Education:

Members of the local speleological groups were again involved in the display at the "Children’s Groundwater Festival" in November. Positive feedback was received about this event that targeted teachers and primary school aged children in the Perth region. During August 2008, members of Cavers Leeuwin co-ordinated a "caves day" which involved displays at the National Park caves, a take-home item (sticker of the karst system) and community education.

5. Karst Policy:

It is understood that the DEC have compiled an excellent document that is about to be finalised. It is however not clear whether this is an internal document or a publically accessible document.

6. Future Cave and Karst Management in W.A.:

There are great opportunities for partnership projects in WA. We aim to continue to develop relationships with Government and other Environmental Agencies and to progress the vision for future karst management in WA.

Summary of WA Karst Conservation and Management Issues

This has been a quieter year on the cave and karst conservation front in WA – mostly due to reduced volunteer time available. The highlights include:

Significant karst projects involving ASF volunteers
Continued involvement of speleological representatives in the management of WA karst areas.

Several areas that need further progression are:

The assessment and protection of vulnerable WA karst areas due to human development.
Further delays within Government in relation to progress on expired management plans for key karst areas. 
Requests for speleological karst assessments and advice on karst areas continue to increase. Speleological advocacy and continued consultation with several agencies has highlighted the need for more Government involvement in planning and management of karst areas.

As reported in the ASF President’s report, the Federal Government has undertaken a process to assess and document key karst areas in WA - with a view to progressing National Heritage Listings. Several WA areas are represented in this process and we look forward to speleologists having further involvement in future protection of caves and karst areas.

Several key areas in WA have adequate karst management while other key areas have significant knowledge gaps or a complete lack of management. It would be excellent if the ASF and State Conservation Agencies could work together in progressing a framework for karst management in WA. Many speleologists acknowledge that it is important that land managers and Government agencies seek involvement and consultation from speleologists whenever there are major decisions being made regarding karst areas. There is significant opportunity for future partnerships between organizations with similar environmental objectives in relation to the management of karst areas in WA. There is an opportunity for ASF members to work with landowners regarding planning for environmental protection at the local level.

The Conservation Commission, through key involvement of local speleologists, will continue involvement in public education, through community displays, participation in community events and presentations. Ultimately, rather than volunteers being highly involved in karst management, the State Government needs to fund Karst Management at a State level. This is an avenue that is being progressed in several ways and ongoing discussions are looking promising. We look forward to reporting on progress towards this in the future.

Jay Anderson Rob Susac Eve Taylor Jeff Murray


1. South of Perth:

1A Cave Management in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park (L.N.N.P.)

The Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park Management plan (1989-1999) is yet to be updated. The draft management plan is still being compiled and is yet to be released for public comments. The Cave Management Advisory Committee (CMAC.) continues to meet to advise the DEC on cave management issues. This process continues to work really well and various projects are undertaken regularly - involving local speleological members.

The 2006 Report outlined an issue regarding a Eucalypt plantation adjacent to karst (the Jewel cave karst system). During 2007, the two Cave Managers in the South West (DEC and AMRTA) met with the Margaret River Shire representatives to progress liaison regarding regional development relating to karst. There is a significant need for thorough interagency consultation and communication, including liaison with speleological groups. It is hoped that improved future communication on karst management issues will lead to further research on the areas karst system.

One significant Tourist cave in the South West – Jewel Cave, is undergoing some restoration works. Jewel Cave is located on a Class A Reserve in the LNNP, managed by the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association (AMRTA) since its discovery in 1957. Upgrades to the site are planned to include removing old lighting and relocating the visitor infrastructure – allowing much of the site that is currently on top of the cave to be returned to natural vegetation. It is hoped that natural infiltration will be restored over sections of the cave that are likely to have been affected by human development. Local speleologists have given their support to the project and it is anticipated that any in-cave works will utilise speleological knowledge and skills.

Local speleologists continue to be involved in on-ground conservation works such as cave restoration, removal of debris from caves and trackmarking.

1B Karst in the Mandurah/Peel Region

As reported previously, there is no specific management of the karst system that lies south of Perth and adjacent to the Dawesville Estuary - further work needs to be undertaken in this area, including public education. The status of many caves in relation to land development in the area is unclear. This needs to be determined as a matter of priority.

2. To the East:

2A The Nullarbor

As reported on in previous reports, the ASF and local WA speleological groups continue to be involved in the project - aimed at protecting the biodiversity of the Nullarbor Karst. Is involves the progression of plans and projects through the Natural Resource Management (NRM) group for the Nullarbor. There has been extensive involvement of the ASF in the planning process. This has involved considerable liaison between various ASF members with knowledge skills and experience of the Nullarbor and of karst management. The project has progressed well with two field trips in 2007 (speleologists and indigenous representatives) and the compilation of a final report on the subterranean biodiversity of the region. The next phase will be to produce Interim Management Guidelines and ASF members will be consulted in the development of these.

Cocklebiddy cave is currently closed due to safety issues identified in a geotechnical engineers report. The land manager responsible is also in the process of developing some interpretation signage at this site.

The ASF continues to advocate for the need for World Heritage Listing for the Nullarbor. This is an important opportunity for ACKMA and ASF to partner together in raising the awareness of the Nullarbor and in discussing karst values with the Government.

2B South Coast Management Plan

There has been no progress on the Regional management plan (1992-2002).

3. North of Perth:

3A Yanchep National Park:

There has been no release of the draft Yanchep National Park Management plan (1989-1999). However, there has been significant speleological input in management plan drafts, with liaison between the Department of Environment and Conservation and local speleologists.

The Yanchep National Park Caves Advisory Committee (YCAC) meets bi-monthly to discuss local karst issues. It is still recommended that this area needs a specific "cave manager" as a matter of priority. There is a need for an integrated approach to management in the area. Speleologists continue to work closely with Park staff: providing advice on cave and karst management issues and assisting with local projects. There are plans to alter the lighting in Crystal Cave, to remove the lampenflora and to upgrade the in-cave infrastructure.

Previous reports have noted how the area contains a "Threatened Ecological Community" that is endangered and ongoing concerns of the lowered water tables. A partnership of State Government Agencies has been working together and another phase of the "re-watering" of the cave systems is to soon be implemented. It is still our opinion that the Government needs to hasten their plans to reduce the Pine Tree Plantations in the east. We reiterate that this should be a priority as the catchment to the east is significant to the karst hydrology.

3B Carabooda Area:

No further progress has occurred on the issue of the planned road in the Alkimos Area (as reported in the 2005 report) and the task to address this issue is ongoing. It remains of great concern that there is a road planned to go straight over a number of significant caves. This needs more time to progress than is currently available to those volunteers who are progressing this issue. This whole area needs significant community education about karst.

The WA speleological groups have had several information requests regarding karst areas in the north of Perth. This has involved significant time input of speleological volunteers. There is an opportunity for ASF members to work with landowners, company’s and local Government regarding planning and development issues at the local level. However, the State Government needs to acknowledge the need for a specialist statewide karst role in karst planning and management. We look forward to reporting on progress towards this issue in the future.

3C Two Rocks & Wanneroo Area:

Although, the City of Wanneroo Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) continue to meet, there has been little focus on the need to assess for karst in development proposals. The committee plays an important role and can assist in raising the profile of karst in the area. Despite its good progress and intent in 2006, the City of Wanneroo has not followed through with the plan to develop and implement a local karst policy. The sub committee has not met since they were advised that the City of Wanneroo had other priorities. This is a disappointing result and it is hoped that the City of Wanneroo would see the need to continue to progress this important policy.

Development subdivisions continue to occur, however it seems that although speleologists can be involved in karst assessments, this is not given the required policy framework for implementation. Development continues to occur and there has been an increase in the number of requests for karst assessment. Speleologists are now receiving regular requests. These requests involve a significant amount of volunteer time to resolve. This shows a great need in the community and an opportunity for the State Government to support our future ‘vision’ for karst management in WA. It would be more appropriate for State supported and delegated role to fulfil these tasks and this is part of the vision for future karst management for WA.

3D Coastal Karst – Lancelin to Geraldton - including Jurien/Cervantes:

As reported in the 2006 report, The "Hidden Treasures" Project was initiated and successfully implemented. Speleologists were involved in documenting (and collecting specimens) subterranean fauna from caves in the region. As a result of this project, greater liaison has occurred with DEC and private landowners in the areas. A final report was compiled which will be a significant key reference for the area.

The discussions with National Park/State Government regarding the management of Drover’s

Cave has been on hold due to a number of issues, and will continue to be progressed.

3E Cape Range:

The Cape Range National Park Management plan (1987-1997) has been in the process of review for some time. The Management plan was finalised in early 2007.

Additionally, as noted in previous reports, the A.S.F. case regarding proposed mining leases on the Cape Range has not yet been concluded (although finalised in the Wardens Court in Perth (11/2000). The Government (Minister for Mines) has STILL to make the final decision regarding the granting of the mining leases. The A.S.F. will continue to request the removal of the strategic limestone mining purpose from the proposed 5(h) reserve. In addition, the Government advisory committee for this area, still needs speleological representation/expertise.

Speleologists continue to raise the importance of the World Heritage nomination to the Government. The A.S.F. has continued to advocate that the Cape Range is a significant karst area that needs such protection and recognition. It has taken the Government several years to progress the plans to nominate the Cape Range for World Heritage Status. A special Government committee made recommendations on the proposed boundary’s, however it is understood that this has not been resolved.

3F The Kimberley – FAR north:

The caves and karst of the Kimberley are of considerable international significance, yet there has been no progress on karst management for this region. The area’s current land management regime does not adequately provide for the reservation and protection of important karst features. This area needs appropriate karst management, in particular an "integrated management" focus (see the 2005 report for more information). The National Heritage List may be an appropriate mechanism for recognising the areas "outstanding" values.

4. Public Education:

The ASF was again involved in the display at the "Children’s Groundwater Festival" in November. Positive feedback was received about this event that targeted teachers and primary school aged children in the Perth region. Additionally, the 3nd Joint Workshop between the ASF, Greening Australia – WA and Skills for Nature Conservation (DEC) occurred during the year.

This was titled "Subterranean safari – exploring the karst systems on the Swan Coastal Plain". Three ASF members conducted the workshop which was again well received.

5. Karst Policy:

As reported in the 2006 Report, the EPA Policy document titled "Environmental Guidance for Planning and Development" (2006) (an update of the 1997 "Guidelines for Environment and Planning") was circulated for public comment. This document contains, Chapter B9 I- a section titled "karst, subterranean wetlands and fauna". This document contains information relating to karst assessment and particularly how to consider karst during planning. This excellent document is about to be finalised, however it is already being utilised.

One other key assessment/policy document is the EPA "Guidance for the assessment of Environmental Factors" (Policy 54). This policy relates to the assessment of subterranean fauna in groundwater and caves. A recent associated document has been drafted and is currently out for public review and submissions– the 54a Technical Index "sampling methods and survey considerations for subterranean fauna in WA" (12 months – to August 2008).

6. Future Cave and Karst Management in W.A.:

The W.A. –ASF Conservation Commission aims to raise the profile of speleological consultation in karst management, comprehensive karst assessment, policy development and land development planning issues. We consider that there are great opportunities for partnerships and collaboration in local projects. It is our aim to continue to develop relationships with Government and other Environmental Agencies, to progress the vision for future karst management in WA. At a local Government level, there needs to be progress on the development of local policy. The networks and relationships that have been developed with other State environmental organizations are important in the development of a holistic karst management focus for WA. The WA Government needs to show a greater commitment to appropriately resourcing areas that manage karst and discussions on this have been ongoing. It would be excellent to see the State Government allocate appropriate resources to each National Park to appropriately manage the karst areas. We will continue to progress the vision for future karst management-involving speleologists and developing Government roles in Karst Management, Planning and karst Education.

developing Government roles in Karst Management, Planning and karst Education.

There have been some small and positive changes in several karst areas. The highlights include:

Continued involvement of ASF representatives in community consultation on the NRM Rangelands Nullarbor region.

Notification of funding for a project on the Nullarbor karst.
A number of projects involving ASF volunteers in karst areas. 
Significant progress on karst policy – see 3C
An increase in requests for karst assessments.

The main areas that stand out in need of progression are the:

Continued vulnerability of the coastal karst areas of Perth (due to human development)
Long expired management plans for three of the key karst areas in the State. 
The status of the subterranean fauna in the State’s "Threatened Ecological Community".

During 2006, two State Government Department’s combined to form DEC (Department of Environment and Conservation) – the Department of Conservation (CALM) and the Department of Environment (DoE). Although this caused some delays due to internal organization, it is hoped that there will be improvements in natural resource management resulting from the merge.

One significant karst issue required urgent consideration, interagency collaboration and legal advice. This was in relation to a perceived threat to the LNNP Threatened Ecological Community when a proposal for a gum tree plantation was proposed. Although this was a successful outcome, it highlights the need for excellent networks/communication and the importance of legal advice in conservation and karst management issues.

Several members of the ASF were involved in the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s National Parks, conservation reserves and marine protected areas. A submission on WA karst management issues was compiled and submitted and utilised by the representatives who attended the face to face hearing in Melbourne.

We would like to reiterate the importance of management of karst areas and the necessary required specialist knowledge. It is important that land managers and Government agencies seek involvement and consultation from speleologists whenever there are major decisions being made regarding karst areas. This should be seen as a priority and as part of the important public consultation process. The challenge is for both speleologists and land managers to work together in partnership – to ensure that our karst areas in this state are managed appropriately.

There is significant opportunity for future partnerships between organizations with similar environmental objectives in relation to the management of karst areas in WA. There is an opportunity for ASF members to work with landowners regarding planning for environmental protection at the local level. The Conservation Commission is working with local State Environmental groups to determine a strategy for communication and liaison so that speleological expertise can be utilized in proposals that involve any potential impacts or effects on karst, limestone or subterranean fauna. This is also an excellent opportunity to work together on the various policy settings for karst and subterranean protection. The Conservation Commission will continue involvement in public education, through community displays, participation in community events and presentations. We look forward to reporting on progress towards this in the future.

Jay Anderson Rob Susac Eve Taylor


1. South of Perth:

1A Cave Management in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park (L.N.N.P.)

The Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park Management plan (1989-1999) has not been finalised or renewed. There is an issues paper on this areas management issues and a draft plan is being compiled. However, to date, no draft management plan has been released for public comments.

There are four "Aquatic Root Mat Community in Caves of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge". These are a "Threatened Ecological Community" (TEC) that are listed under the EPBC Act as endangered. A recovery plan is in place and DEC has a specialist recovery team that meets to address issues. The current status of all of the TEC in the LNNP is unknown, however it is reported that the groundwater levels in the Jewel Cave karst system are at the lowest recorded levels since the 1950’s. Over the last several years, most of the known aquatic root mat habitat and TEC have dried up or declined significantly. This is an issue that will require management actions.

The Cave Management Advisory Committee (CMAC.) continues to meet bi-monthly to advise The Department on cave management issues. This process continues to work really well and various projects have been carried out with speleological members during the past year. There have been several CMAC field trips to assess caves – either for impacts, to upgrade trackmarking or to assess the potential for a cave classification change.

More recently a karst issue required consideration, regarding a proposed plantation of "blue gum" Eucalyptus (Leeuwin Naturaliste area). The proposal was on land adjacent to the LNNP that could be classified as a threat to the karst values, particularly the TEC. As a result of several factors, and a lack of awareness of the TEC, the Shire approved the proposal Due to a combination of factors, the proposal did not go ahead. The Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) provided much appreciated legal advice and participated in a meeting with the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA). The EDO was able to contact the other party’s lawyers and progress a DEH referral (regarding the Threatened Ecological Community in the area) which precipitated a withdrawal. Although this was a successful outcome, it highlights the need for thorough interagency consultation and communication, including communication with speleological groups – the need for excellent networks/communication and the importance of legal advice in conservation and karst management issues. During February a special meeting was held in Margaret River and it is hoped for improved future liaison on karst management issues.

There was a large fire in the National Park during April 2006. The wildfire occurred in the LNNP

about 12km south of Margaret River. The fire, which escaped from a prescribed burn, affected

1500 ha of forest. In particular the Mammoth cave doline suffered significant damage to infrastructure. Significant areas of LNNP forest have been burnt in the last few years and it will be interesting to see if there are any subsequent effects on groundwater levels in the karst system.

1B Wallcliffe Cave – Shire of Augusta/Margaret River

The plans regarding a change in land tenure from the Shire to the State Government has not progressed. A management plan for this cave is still outstanding.

1C Karst in the Mandurah Region

As reported previously, there is no management of the karst system adjacent to the Dawesville Estuary. The caves in this area are of a variety of tenure, either on private property or in areas of bushland. Further work needs to be undertaken in this area, including public education. The status of caves in relation to land development in the area is unclear. This needs to be determined as a matter of priority.

Many organizations are realising that speleologists have knowledge and skills needed to survey and quantify the values contained in karst areas. Organisations such as mining companies, real estate developers and local Government land managers are more and more identifying the need for speleological involvement in karst assessment. This change has come about due to a variety of factors including the raising profile of karst in WA by the karst workshops (see point 4) and through developing environmental networks. This is a positive action, which is excellent to report that consultation and liaison on karst issues is occurring.

2. To the East:

2A The Nullarbor

The Nullarbor Karst includes thousands of caves and surface karst features, a range of cave adapted and often unique organisms, unique and unusual minerals and speleothems and subterranean wetlands. This karst area exists under a range of tenures. It is a large, significant karst area, where visitation impacts on the karst system are difficult to assess. This area of karst in WA continues to receive extensive trips and expeditions – both from organised speleological groups, recreation groups and cave divers. It is clear to many speleologists that the Nullarbor is an area that desperately needs appropriate management. There is still no "on-ground" management of the caves and karst, and as such, there is no monitoring of impacts or conditions.

The DEC and other key stakeholders are involved in the project which is aimed at protecting the biodiversity and geodiversity of the Nullarbor Karst. The WA Speleological Groups continue involvement in the Natural Resource Management (NRM) group for the Nullarbor. There has been extensive involvement of the ASF in the planning process. This has involved considerable liaison between various ASF members with knowledge, skills and experience of the Nullarbor and of karst management. Following on from the 2005 meetings, during 2006 an ASF representative has been involved in workshops/meetings for the Rangelands NRM Biodiversity Project Development – Nullarbor project – a Teleconference (24 January) and a Meeting (14 September).

The ultimate goal is to produce Interim Management Guidelines to protect the known threatened fauna and other cave biodiversity without compromising other values. To achieve this, a number of milestones need to be met including the compilation of all currently known information on the biological and other values of, and known threats to, the karst via a desktop survey. The desktop survey will be overseen by the Nullabor Karst Project Steering Group, which comprises members from the DEC, Rangelands NRM Coordinating Group, Speleological group representatives and other stakeholders. This project is funded jointly by the Rangelands NRM Coordinating Group and the DEC. During October the project was finalised and a tender document was released. It is envisaged that a consultant will be employed to undertake the project. We await an outcome and an update on how the ASF and local WA based speleological groups can continue to be involved in this process.

Cocklebiddy cave is currently closed due to safety issues identified in a geotechnical engineers report. The land manager responsible is also in the process of developing some interpretation signage at this site.

There has been some progress on the need for World Heritage Listing for the Nullarbor (see the ASF National report – this was discussed during verbal evidence to the Senate inquiry). There will need to be significant effort made in recommending the World Heritage Listing for the Nullarbor and contact between both the W.A. State government and the S.A. State government. This area will need considerable work to research what occurred in the previous nomination and to collate information regarding recent karst documentation by numerous speleological groups. This is an important opportunity for ACKMA and ASF to partner together in raising the awareness f the Nullarbor and in discussing karst values with the Government.

2B South Coast Management Plan

There has be no progress on the Regional management plan (1992-2002).

3. North of Perth:

3A Yanchep National Park:

The Yanchep National Park Management plan (1989-1999) is long expired and needs considerable revising. There has been little further progress on this and the draft management plan is still in preparation.

The Yanchep National Park Caves Advisory Committee meets bi-monthly to discuss local karst issues. It is still recommended that this area needs a specific "cave manager" as a matter of priority. There is a need for an integrated approach to management in the area. Speleologists continue to work closely with Park staff: providing advice on cave and karst management issues and assisting with local projects. The plans to alter the lighting in Crystal Cave, to remove the lampenflora and to upgrade the infrastructure need progressing.

The "Aquatic Root Mat Community in Caves of the Swan Coastal Plain" are a listed species under the EPBC Act. This is listed as a "Threatened Ecological Community" that is endangered. The listed Root Mat Communities are under serious threat from lowered water tables. The lowering of the water table is from a combination of climate, altered hydrology and encroaching urbanisation. A recovery plan is in place and DEC has a specialist recovery team that meets to address issues.

The main concern is the situation for the cave fauna in the stream caves. A partnership of State Government Agencies are involved in artificially maintaining water to certain areas in attempts to maintain the subterranean stygofauna habitats. The current status of the threatened species and the communities that are remaining is unclear. The National Park still needs a dedicated scientific officer to oversee and monitor the adaptive research that is occurring in the National Park. There is a need for specific monitoring and implementation of plans. The WA Government needs to address these issues as a matter of priority. It is still our opinion that the Government needs to hasten their plans to reduce the Pine Tree Plantations in the east. We reiterate that this should be a priority as the catchment to the east is significant to the karst hydrology.

The WASG "Sharing Australia’s Stories" project was successfully finalised (see 2005 report for more information). This involved a Grant from the Commonwealth Government (Department of Environment and Heritage) to install thematic and informative interpretative signs/displays along Boomerang Gorge walk trail at Yanchep National Park - telling a story of karst processes

This project involved a partner ship between the following community volunteer groups – Western Australian Speleological Group (WASG), Speleological Research Group Western Australia (SRGWA), Yanchep Caves Advisory Committee (DEC Advisory Group) and the Yanchep National Park Volunteer Group.

During February 2006, serious damage occurred to speleothems at Crystal Cave in Yanchep National Park, due to a break-in to the cave. Local speleologists were involved in the assessment of damage and the rehabilitation of the site. Advice was provided to investigators regarding the significance of the speleothems.

3B Carabooda Area:

There has been no further progress on the issue of the planned road in the Alkimos Area (as reported in the 2005 report) and the task to address this issue is ongoing. It remains of great concern that there is a road planned to go straight over a number of significant caves. This needs more time to progress than is currently available to those volunteers who are progressing this issue.

It is our aim to develop a program of seminars, brochures and public education. Additionally, it would be excellent to meet with local landowners to discuss karst management issues and to consider issues involved in "living on karst". There is an opportunity to progress this important issue, however a source of funding would need to be sought. This issue needs to be progressed further as a priority.

The WA speleological groups have had several information requests regarding karst areas in the north of Perth. This has involved significant time input of speleological volunteers. There is an opportunity for ASF members to work with a landowners, company’s and local Government regarding planning and development issues at the local level. We look forward to reporting on progress towards this issue in the future.

3C Two Rocks & Wanneroo Area:

The City of Wanneroo contains significant karst areas. The City has an Interim Rural Strategy that is due for review. This document has a small section on karst. Significant progress has been made on developing a co-ordinated approach (involving liaison between the City of Wanneroo and Speleological Groups) regarding areas under development in karst regions. The City of Wanneroo Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) continue to meet bimonthly. The committee plays an important role and can assist in raising the profile of karst in the area. The City of Wanneroo is in the process of reviewing the Local Environmental Strategy. The plan to "develop a caves and karstic features policy" was progressed during 2006. Thru speleological representation on the City of Wanneroo EAC, the opportunity to provide education on karst issues has occurred. During the year, a small subcommittee, including speleologists has met to….

XXX

Speleological groups are developing greater liaison with the Environmental Protection Authority, to ensure further caves and karst areas are not impacted. A Presentation was made to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) section of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) during February. This was well received and it is envisaged that contact with this agency

will be developed and improved in the future. There is a huge task of acting to protect the karst areas as the current development and impact of Perth’s expanding population pressures on the karst.

Development subdivisions continue to occur. Speleologists can visit a property and make an assessment of the karst features present. A report can then be given both to the landowner and the local Government to assist in the best response required in the situation. Over the past year, the number of requests for karst assessment have increased. Speleologists are now receiving monthly requests. This shows a great need in the community and an opportunity for the State Government to support our ‘future vision for karst management in WA. These requests involve a significant amount f volunteer time to resolve. It would be more appropriate for a delegated role to fulfil these tasks and it is intended to seek progress to this plan.

It is our goal to have several landowner education sessions and workshops – discussing the area’s geological development, and what it means to "Live on karst". Ultimately it is planned to publish a landowners brochure/booklet outlining these issues in a manner that is educational and non confrontational. To assist in this education, and to provide a visual aspect to learning it is envisaged that a 3D karst model be developed – showing the physical interaction between the surface and the subsurface in karst – specifically in this area. This can then be used in education and displays.

3D Speleological Involvement with Government -Local Community Consultation & karst management advice:

Several members of Speleological Groups continue to regularly attend local community consultation groups to ensure that karst issues are considered and raised in ongoing decision- making regarding the northern groundwater mound that is a karst catchment area.

3E Coastal Karst – Lancelin to Geraldton - including Jurien/Cervantes:

The discussions with National Park/State Government regarding the management of Drover’s

Cave has been on hold due to a number of issues, and will continue to be progressed.

The northward growth of Perth will impact on the coast and associated karst features. The management plans for this area do not appear to have considered the existence of caves or karst features. At this stage, a large amount of bushland has not been assessed for karst features. Further work needs to be done in this area.

Liaison is occurring with DEC regarding karst in the Northern Agricultural Region. A project is being undertaken to locate previously undiscovered areas of high conservation value. Caves and their associated biodiversity are one type of natural asset being considered and it is likely that a biodiversity project will be proposed to examine the "Hidden Treasures" of this area.

3F Cape Range:

The Cape Range National Park Management plan (1987-1997) has been in the process of review for some time. This year the draft management plan was released for public comment and local speleologists submissions. It is understood that the Final Management Plan is currently under preparation. Speleologists have been involved in the consultation process and the draft release was excellent news.

The 2005 report outlined the specific details of the two listed Threatened Ecological Communities in this karst area - The "Cape Range Remipede Community" and the "Cameron’s Cave Troglobitic Community". Speleologists were successful in obtaining funding (during 2005) for a project to address local threats to the karst system (The WA Speleological Group - $22,260). This grant was approved under the Threatened Species Network Community Grants Program. The project will be undertaken by local ASF members in conjunction with relevant experts and Stage Government DEC personnel.

Additionally, as noted in previous reports, the A.S.F. case regarding proposed mining leases on the Cape Range has not yet been concluded (although finalised in the Wardens Court in Perth (11/2000). The Government (Minister for Mines) has STILL to make the final decision regarding the granting of the mining leases. The A.S.F. will continue to request the removal of the strategic limestone mining purpose from the proposed 5(h) reserve.

Speleologists continue to raise the importance of the World Heritage nomination to the Government. The A.S.F. has continued to advocate that the Cape Range is a significant karst area that needs such protection and recognition. It has taken the Government several years to progress the plans to nominate the Cape Range for World Heritage Status. A special Government committee made recommendations on the proposed boundary’s however it is understood that this has not been resolved.

3G The Kimberley – FAR north:

It is still considered that the caves and karst of the Kimberley are of considerable international significance. There has been no progress on karst management for this region. The area’s current land management regime does not adequately provide for the reservation and protection of important karst features. This area needs appropriate karst management, in particular an "integrated management" focus (Please refer to the 2005 report for more information). The National Heritage List may be an appropriate mechanism for recognising the "outstanding" values of the area.

3H Christmas Island

There are a number of outstanding actions in relation to karst management in this area. Speleological Groups are in liaison with the managers on a number of issues. During May a team of speleologists participated in the Christmas Island Subterranean Fauna Project ($40,000 granted from the Federal Government) to assist in documenting the island’s subterranean fauna.

There was a proposal regarding mining on Christmas Island (Christmas Island Phosphates EIS). This involved 8 new lease areas in mainly undisturbed rainforest Christmas Island crown land. Concerns were regarding potential impacts on the area’s hydrology and karst systems. A submission of concerns was submitted and there will be continued strong liaison with the WA Conservation Council and the WA Wilderness Society regarding this issue. The outcome of this has not been finalized.

4. Public Education:

There has been one major opportunity for Joint Speleological Groups "Community Education" Displays. There was a display at the "Children’s Groundwater Festival" in November. The "interactive" cave, groundwater model and activities were quite popular with the children and their teachers.

The 2nd Joint Workshop (ASF and Greening Australia – WA) titled "Subterranean safari – exploring the karst systems on the Swan Coastal Plain" was held in April. This workshop was a success and there was enough interest to create a waitlist. A number of Government Officers attended which has provided the opportunity for liaison and future partnerships (particularly leading to a number of referrals and contacts throughout the year regarding several karst areas that need assessment – see 1C). Recent discussions with Greening Australia indicate that there will be funding for a workshop in 2007.

We aim to continue important community events and to facilitate the partnership between the ASF and other environmental organisations. In particular, we aim to focus on an educational program for local landowners in the metropolitan Perth region (see 3B and 3C for more information).

5. Karst Policy and Protective Mechanisms:

There is a broad range of policy, legislation and guidelines that are required for karst areas. There is a considerable lack of appropriate state policy and legislation regarding caves and karst areas in WA. The most significant development has been the utilisation of the EPA Policy document titled

XXX

It is our aim to continue to develop relationships with the Government and to progress the vision for future karst management in WA.

At a local Government level, there has been significant progress on the need to develop local policy (as reported in section 3C). We also have been able to extend our networks and gain knowledge of International karst policy development, which will assist this project.

6. Future Cave and Karst Management in W.A.:

The WA Government needs to show a greater commitment to appropriately resourcing areas that manage karst. The aim of the W.A. Conservation Commission is to raise the profile of speleologists and the need for their involvement in karst management.

The networks and relationships that have been developed with other State environmental organizations are important in the development of a wholistic karst management focus for WA. We will continue to progress this vision for future karst management, which involves promoting the need for a State Karst Education Officer.

the need for a State Karst Education Officer.

Once again there has been a lack of progression regarding karst management and conservation of karst issues in WA. As discussed in the previous years report, three of the key karst areas in the State have long expired management plans. Over the past 2 year period, despite several consultation meetings with CALM regarding these areas, there is still no draft management plans released for any of those areas.

We would like to reiterate the importance of management of karst areas and the necessary required specialist knowledge. As such, it is felt that the Government should be "seeking" consultation from speleologists whenever there are major decisions being made regarding karst areas. This should be seen as a priority and as part of the important public consultation process. The challenge is still for both speleologists and land managers to work together in partnership – to ensure that our karst areas in this state are managed appropriately.

The contact with the Natural Resource Management (NRM) Rangelands group (made in 2004) regarding the Nullarbor has continued. It is hoped that this liaison will continue to raise the profile of the importance of the Nullarbor karst and the lack of information that exists on the natural resources in this area. An ASF representative has been able to attend 3 community consultative meetings regarding the issue of the Rangelands Nullarbor region. It is hoped that there will be funding set aside for a small project on the Nullarbor, this is yet to be confirmed.

The WA speleological groups have had several information requests regarding karst areas in the north of Perth. Further liaison with an environmental consultant acting for a land developer has raised the issue of private management of a cave in the Peel region, as it is reported that no other Government (local or State) agency is interested in the management of this particular cave. This issue shows the opportunity for future partnerships between organizations with similar environmental objectives. There is an opportunity for ASF members to work with a landowner regarding planning for environmental protection at the local level. We look forward to reporting on progress towards this issue in the future.

Conservation issues reported on previously regarding the vulnerability of the karst area to the north of Perth (due to human development) still exist. Additionally, the Government is STILL to make a decision regarding the ASF’s legal action and the proposed mining leases at Cape Range. There have also been several ongoing projects involving ASF volunteers in Yanchep and Leeuwin karst areas (see each section for this report). The WASG received confirmation of two grant applications – one for the Yanchep area and another for the Cape Range area (these are reported in more detail at the relevant section). Once again, there are plans to continue involvement in public education, through community displays, participation in community events and presentations.

One issue has just been brought to our attention as this report was being written. There is currently a proposal regarding mining on Christmas Island. It is reported that Christmas Island Phosphates have released a draft EIS for 8 new lease areas in mainly undisturbed rainforest Christmas Island crown land. There is a potential impact on the area’s hydrology and karst systems. There is only a short, 6 week public comment period (closing 31/12/2005) and there will be strong liaison with the WA Conservation Council and the WA Wilderness Society regarding this issue. For more information seehttp://www.christmasislandeis.com/

Jay Anderson Peter Armstrong Rob Susac Eve Taylor

 

More specific Details regarding each WA karst area is outlined below:

1. South of Perth:

1A Cave Management in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park (L.N.N.P.)

The Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park Management plan, dated 1989-1999 has not been finalised or renewed. CALM advise that this is "progressing", however several sections are still to be completed. A tentative date of February 2006 is given for the release of a draft.

There are four "Aquatic Root Mat Community in Caves of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge". These are a "Threatened Ecological Community" that are listed under the EPBC Act as endangered. A recovery plan is in place and CALM has a specialist recovery team that meets to address issues.

The Cave Management Advisory Committee (C.M.A.C.) continues to meet bi-monthly to advise The Department on cave management issues. This process continues to work really well and various projects have been carried out with speleological members during the past year. These include: Work at Bride Cave and Nannup Cave and ongoing rehabilitation in several caves. There have been several CMAC field trips to assess caves – either for impacts, to upgrade trackmarking or to assess the potential for a cave classification change. The speleological use of locked and restricted access caves in 2005 has remained at a low level.

1B Wallcliffe Cave – Shire of Augusta/Margaret River

The Shire of Augusta Margaret River has still not implemented the draft cave management plan for Wallcliffe cave. It is understood that the Shire is progressing the alteration in land tenure and the plans to vest the land in CALM is proceeding, but it will take some time. The cave itself requires a lot of rehabilitation and would be a challenge for a future project. The cave has a new gate and still receives visitation. It is understood that access to this cave is permitted via application to the Shire.

1C Karst in the Mandurah Region

As reported previously, there is no management of the karst system adjacent to the Dawesville Estuary. The caves in this area are of a variety of tenure, either on private property or in areas of bushland. Further work needs to be undertaken in this area, including public education.

There has been recent contact with an environmental consultant acting for a land developer in the Peel Region. This has raised the issue of private management of a cave, as it is reported that no other Government (local or State) agency is interested in the management of this particular cave. This issue shows the opportunity for future partnerships between organizations with similar environmental objectives. There is an opportunity for ASF members to work with a landowner regarding planning for environmental protection at the local level. This issue needs to be progressed and discussions with the companies involved need to occur.

Due to contacts made during the project reported on in this segment in the last report, there has been further liaison from construction companies when undertaking works in karst areas. In particular the area to the north of Perth has had several requests for information from speleologists. This is a positive action, which is excellent to report that consultation and liaison on karst issues is occurring.

2. To the East:

2A The Nullarbor

The Nullarbor is a large, significant karst area, where visitation impacts on the karst system are difficult to assess. It is clear to many speleologists that the Nullarbor is an area that desperately needs appropriate management. There is still no "on-ground" management of the caves and karst, and as such, there is no monitoring of impacts or conditions. The Nullarbor has been the major action area in regards to any karst area in WA during 2005. Although, there have been several interagency NRM consultative meetings regarding this, the consultative karst workshop referred to in the 2004 report (involving Government and speleologists, to determine some management prescriptions for the area) is yet to occur. The Government agencies responsible have undertaken little formal steps towards implementing any karst management actions or management plans.

This area of karst in WA continues to receive extensive trips and expeditions – both from organised speleological groups and other groups. Several cave diving trips have also undertaken further study in this area. There are a range of purposes to the trips – from recreation to research – including documenting and describing karst features to documenting subterranean fauna and habitats. The troglobitic fauna are listed here as an example of fauna that are known to be threatened in this karst area. There are 4 arachnids on the Schedule 1 list, all listed as vulnerable. These are: Tartarus mullamullangensis, Tartarus murdochensis, Tartarus nurinensis, Tartarus thampannensis and Troglodiplura lowryi. In particular, there is a recent find to report that a new species of troglomorphic centipede from the Roe Plains has been described (published in the Records of the Western Australian Museum, Volume 22, Part 4, 2005 by Gregory D Edgecombe). The Cryptops (Trigonocryptops) roeplainsensis sp. nov. has been collected in 3 Roe Plain caves.

As reported in 2004, the WA Speleological Groups have made contact with the Natural Resource Management (NRM) group for the Nullarbor. It is hoped that involvement by speleologists will raise the profile of the importance of the Nullarbor karst and the lack of information that exists on the natural resources in this area. This situation could be remedied if there was funding allocated to the important research in this karst area. In the latter part of 2005, there has been extensive involvement of the ASF in the planning process. This has involved considerable liaison between various ASF members with knowledge, skills and experience of the Nullarbor and of karst management. The WA Speleological Groups provided a representative for the ASF to the following workshops/meetings:

27 September 2005 Teleconference Rangelands NRM Biodiversity Project
     Development – Nullarbor project

10 October1 2005. 4-6:00 Special Group Discussion - Sub Project 3 – Under the Nullarbor: Management and Biological Inventory of Nullarbor Karst.

10 November 2005. 9-12:00 South Coast Threatened Invertebrate Recovery Team

10 November 2005. 9-4:00 Biodiversity Steering Group Project Development Workshop

14 December 2005. 9-4:00 Biodiversity Steering Group Project Workshop

We await an outcome and an update on how the ASF and local WA based speleological groups can continue to be involved in this process. There is a small project planned, however due to strong competition for funding it is not yet sure whether this project will be allocated any funding.

2B South Coast Management Plan

There has be no progress on the Regional management plan, dated 1992-2002.

2C Nullarbor World Heritage Listing

As reported in previous reports, this task is ongoing. There has been no progress on this issue. There will need to be some effort made in recommending the World Heritage Listing for the Nullarbor and contact between both the W.A. State government and the S.A. State government regarding this issue. The ASF has formally stated its concern with the management of this area, however further official actions need to be taken. This area will need considerable work to research what occurred in the previous nomination and to collate information regarding recent karst documentation by numerous speleological groups. This may be an important opportunity for ACKMA and ASF to partner together in raising the awareness f the Nullarbor and in discussing karst values with the Government.

3. North of Perth:

3A Yanchep National Park:

The Yanchep National Park Management plan is dated 1989-1999. As previously reported, the Park Management Plan is expired and needs considerable revising. There has been little further progress on this and CALM state that it is possible a draft may be circulated in April 2006. The Yanchep National Park Caves Advisory Committee meets bi-monthly to discuss local karst issues. It is still recommended that this area needs a specific "cave manager" as a matter of priority. There is a need for an integrated approach to management in the area. In this area, speleological group members continue to work very closely with CALM staff: providing education about karst issues, training of CALM staff and assisting with local projects.

The "Aquatic Root Mat Community in Caves of the Swan Coastal Plain" are a listed species under the EPBC Act. This is listed as a "Threatened Ecological Community" that is endangered. A recovery plan is in place and CALM has a specialist recovery team that meets to address issues.

The main concern is the situation for the cave fauna in the stream caves. Further to what was reported previously, the CALM, Water Corporation and Waters and Rivers Commission have been artificially maintaining water to certain areas in attempts to maintain the subterranean stygofauna habitats. The Government project to direct artificial supplementation to the cave stream in the Crystal Cave was considered successful and significant funding was provided. The Government allocated several million dollars to establishing a new bore in the area and to permanently artificially supplement the Crystal Cave Stream. It is understood that this project lasted only several weeks and that the water has been switched off due to concerns regarding oxidised irons in the karst system. It is our understanding that there is no longer any living stygofauna in this cave. It is still our opinion that the Government needs to hasten their plans to reduce the Pine Tree Plantations in the east. We reiterate that this should be a priority as the catchment to the east is significant to the karst hydrology.

Several other caves have significant fauna and root matt communities. The water levels in these caves are being artificially supplemented and monitored. Several caves have plastic lined pools, artificial pumps and soak wells to facilitate an even water table level. It is concerning that the National Park still does not have a dedicated scientific officer to oversee or monitor the adaptive research that is occurring in the National Park. There is a need for specific monitoring and implementation of plans. The WA Government needs to address these issues as a matter of priority.

Unfortunately, CALM has still not obtained any further capital works funding in their budget. The plans to alter the lighting in Crystal Cave, to remove the lampenflora or to upgrade the infrastructure will not happen in the near future. All of this is of great concern and indicates a lack of awareness of broad karst management, and the management of this important karst area.

 

Sharing Australia’s Stories – A local partnership project

During July 2005, WASG was announced as one of the successful applicants for a "Sharing Australia’s Stories" Grant from the Commonweath Government (Department of Environment and Heritage). The Sharing Australia’s Stories Programme supports Activities/projects that help tell the story of the nation. This project will increase public awareness of a rare and uncommon karst and cave system. This project is part of the speleological groups’ broader goal to raise the profile of this special karst system and to educate the community about karst systems. The Project is to be completed within a year of the signing of the Agreement and the funding received was for

$5,200. The WASG would like to acknowledge the financial and other support it has received from the Australian Government to allow this exciting project to proceed.

This project involves the installation of thematic and informative interpretative signs/displays along Boomerang Gorge walk trail at Yanchep that tell a story of natural processes that form karst systems and caves, and this particular karst systems national significance. The project will communicate on a local and national scale the importance of this karst and cave system and the unique natural processes that have made this area of national significance possible. This project will involve a partner ship between the following community volunteer groups – Western Australian Speleological Group (WASG), Speleological Research Group Western Australia (SRGWA), Yanchep Caves Advisory Committee (CALM Advisory Group) and the Yanchep National Park Volunteer Group. The CALM, Yanchep National Park, will provide advice on a needs basis and provide assistance (in-kind) with installation of works. There have been two workshops to prepare the interpretive displays and the project is progressing well.

3B Carabooda Area:

There has been no further progress on the issue of the planned road in the Alkimos Area and the task to address this issue is ongoing. It remains of great concern that there is a road planned to go straight over a number of significant caves. The tasks required include the ongoing work of karst assessment

– surveying the caves and an inventory of karst features. These issues need to continue to be highlighted with the State Agencies involved as the karst system remains under threat from human development. The threat to this karst area is significant and further action is required to protect this system. The significant site (containing fossil remains) may mean that the site could be listed on the National Heritage List as having "outstanding heritage value" or on the Commonwealth Heritage List as having "significant heritage value". If this occurred the site would be protected under the EPBC Act. This needs more time to progress than is currently available to those volunteers who are interested in progressing this issue.

Additionally, it would be excellent to meet with local landowners to discuss karst management issues and to consider issues involved in "living on karst". Several landowners in the area have made contact with speleologists and indicated that some seminars, brochures and public education on karst would be useful. There is an opportunity to progress this important issue, however a source of funding would need to be sought and this issue needs to be progressed further as a priority.

The WA speleological groups have had several information requests regarding karst areas in the north of Perth. On both occasions there were no know karst features recorded in the areas discussed, however it is unclear whether the areas had been completely assessed for karst features. It was recommended to the inquirer that speoleologists be involved further in a karst inventory of one particular area. There is an opportunity for ASF members to work with a landowner and a company regarding planning and development issues at the local level. We look forward to reporting on progress towards this issue in the future.

3C Two Rocks & Wanneroo Area:

As discussed previously, the City of Wanneroo contains significant karst areas. The City has an Interim Rural Strategy that is soon due for review. This document has a small section on karst. Additionally, there needs to be a co-ordinated approach-involving liaison between the City of Wanneroo and Speleological Groups regarding areas under development in karst regions. Speleological groups need greater liaison with the Environmental Protection Authority, to ensure further caves and karst areas are not impacted. It would be excellent it ground-penetrating radar was more extensively utilised in karst areas. There is a huge task of acting to protect the karst areas as the current development and impact of Perth’s expanding population pressures on the karst.

Development subdivisions continue to occur. The plan is to have speleological individuals who are able to visit a property and make an assessment of the karst features present. The report can then be given both to the landowner and the local Government to assist in the best response required in the situation. It is our goal to have several landowner education sessions and workshops – discussing the area’s geological development, and what it means to "Live on karst". Ultimately it is planned to publish a landowners brochure/booklet outlining these issues in a manner that is educational and non confrontational (see the motion in the summary section). To assist in this education, and to provide a visual aspect to learning it is envisaged that a 3D karst model be developed – showing the physical interaction between the surface and the subsurface in karst – specifically in this area. This can then be used in education and displays.

The City of Wanneroo Environmental Advisory Committee continued to meet bimonthly during part of 2005. The committee’s meeting times have since been revised and altered and no meeting has occurred since August. The committee plays an important role and can assist in raising the profile of karst in the area. The speleological representative provided a presentation on karst systems at the July meeting and this was well received. Documents that need review by the City of Wanneroo include the Local Environmental Strategy and the plan to "develop a caves and karstic features policy". This item has had no action and is currently listed to occur in the 2005-2006 year. An excellent opportunity exists in regard to this issue. It is important that the Council’s awareness is raised and that speleologists are involved in developing this document.

3D Involvement with Government in Local Community Consultation:

Several members of Speleological Groups continue to regularly attend local community consultation groups to ensure that karst issues are considered and raised in ongoing decision-making regarding the northern groundwater mound that is a karst catchment area.

3E East of Jurien - Drovers Cave National Park:

Drover’s Cave –Further discussions with CALM are needed regarding actions that will need to occur to implement the proposals. There are ongoing discussions with CALM regarding this issue and the need for both the land manager and the speleological groups to meet.

3F South of Jurien - Coastal Area –Jurien/Cervantes:

The northward growth of Perth has the potential to impact on the coast and associated karst features. Concerns remain that management plans for this area do not appear to have considered the existence of caves or karst features. At this stage, a large amount of bushland has not been assessed for karst features. Further work needs to be done in this area.

There has been no further need for speleological involvement in the Lancelin Defence Training Area

– (L.D.T.A.). There is a speleological representative on the management committee for the L.D.T.A. However, due to the location and timing of meetings, volunteer speleologists have not been able to attend all meetings (every 2-3 months). The status of speleological membership has been revised to "information only" due to the lack of significant karst issues in this area. Speleological groups remain involved and provide a consultative role where required. We have recently been notified that a stygofauna survey will occur and have been asked to be involved in consultation in this process.

3G North of Jurien - Coastal Area:

The WA Speleological Groups continue to undertake a project in this area to reassess, and renew information on known karst features. This project requires visiting the karst features and obtaining accurate GPS information. Areas of bushland are also being searched for new karst features. This project involves close liaison with local landowners.

3H Cape Range:

The Cape Range National Park Management plan is dated 1987-1997 and has been in the process of review for some time. The CALM advise that the draft management plan for Cape Range is currently at the "printers" and will be soon released for public comment. This is excellent news, and given the priority of the Government to the World Heritage nomination, the document will need serious consideration. CALM now advise that a draft may be out by the end of 2005.

It would be excellent if the Government acknowledged that it is important to have knowledge and experience in karst to be able to make appropriate decisions regarding such an area. The Government advisory committee for the area needs speleological representation. Additionally, as noted in previous reports, the A.S.F. took legal action regarding proposed mining leases on the Cape Range. Although this was concluded in the Wardens Court in Perth (11/2000), the process has yet to be concluded. The Government (Minister for Mines) has STILL to make the final decision regarding the granting of the mining leases. The A.S.F. needs to continue to request the removal of the strategic limestone mining purpose from the proposed 5(h) reserve.

The A.S.F. has continued to advocate that the Cape Range is a significant karst area that needs such protection and recognition. The formal process regarding the plans to nominate the Cape Range for World Heritage Status was delayed in 2004. There has been no update regarding progress.

There are two listed Threatened Ecological Communities in this karst area. The "Cape Range Remipede Community" and the "Cameron’s Cave Troglobitic Community". The troglobitic fauna are listed here as an example of fauna that are known to be threatened in this karst area. There are 4 millipedes and 4 arachnids on the Schedule 1 list. These are the arachnids – Bamazomus sp. And Draculoides bramstokeri (both listed as endangered) and the Draculoides sp. And Hyella sp. The millipedes are Speleostrophus nesiotes, Stygiochiropus isolatus, Styggiochiropus peculiaris and Stygiochiopus sympatricus. The Speleostrophus nesiotes and the Draculoides bramstokeri are both found on Barrow Island.

The WA Speleological Group has been successful in its application for $22,260. This grant was approved under the Threatened Species Network Community Grants Program. The application was entitled "The protection of threatened fish of the Cape Range Karst System, North West Cape WA". This project will be undertaken by local ASF members in conjunction with relevant experts and CALM personnel.

3I The Kimberley – FAR north

There are a number of discrete karst systems in the Kimberley Region (generally termed the West Kimberley or the East Kimberley) that have no formal karst management. In the east, the primary land tenure is pastoral leases and station land. In the West, there are areas of National parks, and other areas of pastoral lease and private land. All of these areas need appropriate karst management, in particular a "total catchment management" focus. There have been a number of expeditions to this area over the last 45 years, however further work is required to document the fauna and the karst.

The review of nature conservation reserves in the Kimberley in 1991 needs further follow-up. Humphrey’s (1995) outlines some of the recommendations that were made for the karst areas of the Kimberley, and referred to a submission made by the ASF in 1980. It is still considered that the caves and karst of the West Kimberley are of considerable international significance. It was considered that the area’s current land management regime does not adequately provide for the reservation and protection of important karst features, nor does it recognise outstanding opportunities to incorporate into existing reserves, features that would considerably enhance the value of those reserves. Point 1.8 of the ASF submission (Davey 1980) recommended that "there be a thorough integrated survey of all the cave and karst features of the Limestone Ranges of the West Kimberley and that such a survey should examine geomorphological and biological attributes as well as aboriginal relicts". It is understood that at that time, it was recommended that the WA Museum be requested to make a survey of the caves and springs for the limestone ranges. Humphrey’s (1995) outlined that this survey has never been conducted. It is our recommendation that the current status of the karst areas in the Kimberley needs progressing and that the National Heritage List may be an appropriate mechanism for recognising the "outstanding" values of the area.

4. Public Education:

We aim to continue important community events and to facilitate the partnership between the ASF and other environmental organisations. During the year of 2005 there has been some further opportunity for Joint Speleological Groups "Community Education" Displays: There was a display at the "Children’s Groundwater Festival" on the 22/11/05. The "interactive" cave, and activities were quite popular with the children. Speleological Group members continue to provide ongoing training to CALM staff (including cave guides) at Yanchep (special thanks again to the Wilderness Society, Conservation Council and the Environmental Defender’s Office for the use of display boards). The final workshop was a special seminar on the EPBC – Heritage Lists (10/11/2005), presented by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). As discussed at the ASF council meeting, the Joint Workshop titled "Subterranean safari – exploring the karst systems on the Swan Coastal Plain" was to be held in 2005, however there was a change in staffing and a lack of funding that impacted on these plans. Recent discussions with Greening Australia indicate that funding may be possible for a workshop in 2006.

5. Karst Policy and Protective Mechanisms:

There is a broad range of policy, legislation and guidelines that are required for karst areas. A review of WA policy instruments is currently being finalised (Anderson). A preliminary paper was presented at the 25th Biennial Conference of the ASF – held in January 2005 that outlined some of the challenges and opportunities in this area. We encourage ASF members to be familiar with their state’s policy, legislation and guidelines.

6. Future Cave Management in W.A.:

It would be excellent if the WA Government could show a commitment to appropriately resourcing areas that manage karst. The aim of the W.A. Conservation Commission is to raise the profile of speleologists and their involvement in karst management, and for promoting the need for a State Karst Officer.

Karst Officer.