Land clearing, primarily for agriculture, has arguably had the greatest impact on species viability in the Wheatbelt region. Greater than 70% of the native vegetation of the Wheatbelt NRM region has been cleared since European settlement and an average of over 2700 hectares have been approved for clearing per year since 2010 (Department of Environmental Regulation). The extent and composition of our native vegetation can also be variously effected by fire, secondary salinity and climate change. As we collate data will we be increasingly able to comment on whether the area of perennial vegetation cover is increasing or decreasing across the region.
The data underlying the bushland TPC was derived from the 2007 Department of Agriculture and Food Native Vegetation Extent spatial dataset. With the exception of the Great Western Woodlands which are virtually uncleared, every sub-region of the Wheatbelt NRM region falls well below the threshold of 30% land cover. This threshold has been identified in the literature on biodiversity conservation below which species numbers rapidly decline. Our challenge is to manage the region to improve species viability by increasing perennial landcover to exceed this threshold. About 13% of our remaining native vegetation is protected in crown reserves and under freehold covenants and non-binding agreements while revegetation efforts on freehold land continues. In these ways we can protect, enhance, enlarge and connect our remaining bushland.