A South Coast Threatened Species and Ecological Communities Regional Strategic Management Plan (Gilfillan et al. 2009b) was recently developed as part of an Australia-wide program to trial threatened species recovery planning at a regional scale. This strategic management plan covers the South Coast NRM Region, an area of 9.7 million hectares that includes 189 threatened species and ecological communities. It outlines a strategic approach for the region to improving the integration of threatened species recovery and threat abatement in order to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of threatened species recovery and decrease the need for individual species plans.
One of the recommendations of the strategic management plan is to develop recovery plans for smaller priority areas for threatened species conservation in the region. This current plan, the Fitzgerald Biosphere Recovery Plan, is the first of such plans for Western Australia to take a landscape approach to threatened species recovery and threat abatement planning. This Plan also incorporates broader biodiversity conservation issues into recovery planning.
The Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP) on the south coast of Western Australia, was designated a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme in 1978, and is recognised for its relatively pristine state and high biological diversity, especially its flora (Figure ). Between 1978 and the present there have been a number of formal additions to the Park area and these are recognised by UNESCO as included within the designated Biosphere. A periodic review of Australia’s biosphere reserves in 2003 led to a recommendation from the MAB Bureau for a formal expansion to the Biosphere to take in areas where local landcare groups and landowners were already working in cooperation with the National Park managers, an approach which accords with the modern biosphere reserve concept.
Although the area beyond the core area (FRNP) has been not been formally extended to include buffer and transition zones, these zones have been nominally recognised in the IUCN journal Parks (Watson and Sanders, 1997) and are being managed to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science. The recommendation to formalise the expansion has only recently been pursued through the formation of the community driven Biosphere Implementation Group. The combined area of the core area and buffer and transition zones encompasses approximately 1.3 million hectares, and collectively is called the Fitzgerald Biosphere for the purpose of this Plan.