Overwhelming community support for Great southern Ark project
A plan to bring back locally extinct native species has been embraced in the region.
Between September 2016 and November 2017, staff from Natural Resources Northern and Yorke held a series of community meetings across southern Yorke Peninsula to seek input into the development of the Great Southern Ark: the rewilding of southern Yorke Peninsula project.
The innovative project aims to reintroduce multiple locally extinct native species into their former range to restore natural processes that are missing on the peninsula, with the goal of providing positive agricultural, biodiversity and economic outcomes for Yorke Peninsula.
Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Team Leader for the Yorke Peninsula Max Barr said more than 200 residents from across southern Yorke Peninsula took part in 15 meetings to discuss the feasibility of the Great Southern Ark project with Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Planning and Programs Manager Dr Andy Sharp. Mr Barr said that staff aimed to attract as many of the Yorke Peninsula community to the meetings as they could.
“Staff from the Yorke Peninsula district organised both targeted and general community events, including workshops with landholders along each of the proposed predator management fence lines and open forums with residents and landowners from across southern Yorke Peninsula,” Mr Barr said.
“The groundswell of support for the rewilding project has been remarkable – more than 85 per cent of those involved in the engagement process are keen to see the project progress. The people of Yorke Peninsula can visualise the biodiversity, production, economic and social benefits that can be gained by working together to actively manage their landscape.”
A report on the outcomes of the community engagement activities has recently been released, and is available to read on the Natural Resources Northern and Yorke website.
Mr Barr said that public meetings were held on evenings and weekends and in a majority of the town centres. Smaller groups, such as friends groups and progress associations, were also offered individual presentations on request, which was taken up by quite a few active community groups.
“We were seeking input and contribution from the local community about whether this idea would be accepted and adopted, and we wanted to tap into the famous ‘farmer ingenuity’ to identify solutions for some of the trickier logistical actions,” he said.
“People are arguably our most important asset when it comes to projects like these, so it is really important that we involve the community and get the engagement right from the outset.”
The Great Southern Ark: the rewilding of southern Yorke Peninsula project is being developed by a consortium of organisations, including; WWF Australia, Zoos SA, FAUNA Research Alliance, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Yorke Peninsula Tourism, Regional Development Australia, Yorke Peninsula Council, Nature Conservation Society of SA, Greening Australia, Trees for Life, Ag Excellence Alliance, and Legatus.