Management of invasive species is an important component of biosecurity, sustainable land management and conservation of natural values. Managing effectively the populations of those species already established in Western Australia (WA), including large feral herbivores (LFH), implies reducing their impacts and detecting the occurrence of new populations to prevent further harm to the State’s agriculture and biodiversity. Effective management includes monitoring the density and distribution of established populations to determine their boundaries and monitor the effectiveness of control programs.
The foundations for a national biosecurity framework for vertebrate pests are based on the Australian Pest Animal Strategy (APAS) developed by the Invasive Plants and Animals Committee in 2016. The LFH Strategy (this Strategy) outlines the principles of the APAS and underpins a high-level approach to the management of LFH across five regions; Kimberley, Pilbara, Carnarvon, Meekatharra, and Goldfields-Nullarbor of Western Australia from 2020–2025.
Purpose of the strategy
The Strategy has been developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) to provide guidance to stakeholders on a strategic approach to the management of LFH in the rangelands of WA. This is the first Strategy developed for LFH in WA.
It describes the principles of effective LFH management, setting the goals and priorities that will help improve WA’s ability to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits through improved LFH management. The Strategy guides and informs stakeholders responsible for the on-ground management of LFH, rather than prescribing detailed on-ground actions and activities.
The effective LFH management requires a long-term, well-resourced, tenure-blind, coordinated approach and the active involvement of all key stakeholders. This includes the participation of State government agencies, local governments, Recognised Biosecurity Groups (RBGs), regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) bodies, pastoralists, Traditional Owners, non-government organisations, mining companies and research institutions. The ongoing support of the general public will ensure that public funding continues to be applied to LFH management.
The Strategy recognises that in some instances LFH may have cultural significance or commercial value, particularly for Traditional Owners, however these appreciations must be balanced with the obligation to manage these declared species.
Expert recommendations and an extensive stakeholder consultation process have been considered in the elaboration of this document. Their input has helped identify where LFH management is working effectively and where, with increased collaboration, cooperation and resourcing, improvements in LFH management may be gained.
Finally, the Strategy identifies a range of key management opportunities and challenges. Some of the identified opportunities can be achieved through increased cooperation and collaboration and can be readily implemented at little or no cost. Others will require significant additional research, planning, time or funding to implement.
The Vision for the Strategy is:
Large Feral Herbivore management is an integral part of the sustainable management of natural resources of the rangelands for the benefit of the economy, environment, human health and social and cultural wellbeing of the community.
Guiding principles for this Strategy
The following principles of LFH management underpin this Strategy
Large feral herbivores are managed to ensure sustainability of natural resources
LFH management is an integral part of the sustainable management of natural resources for the benefit of the pastoral industry, the environment, human health and amenity. Primary production and ecosystems need to be protected from negative impacts of LFH. Such impacts include competition for resources, habitat degradation, spread of weeds, damage to human-made infrastructure and potential disease transmission. These threats have the ability to interact with other threats, to further degrade natural values.
Management is more effective with the participation of all stakeholders
LFH management benefits from a coordinated approach among all levels of government, industry, natural resource managers, community groups and individuals. All stakeholders should be involved in decision-making regardless of land tenure. Combating declared pest problems requires all parties to have a clear understanding and acceptance of their roles and responsibilities.
Decision-making and prioritisation need to be risk-based and informed by evidence
The development, monitoring and review of integrated LFH management should be based on robust evidence, intelligence and analysis. Monitoring of LFH management enables evaluation of changing dynamics (population density and distribution) to inform management activities. Decisions on how to allocate resources for the LFH management should be evidence-based and informed by a risk management approach. The benefits of management should exceed the costs of implementing control and the losses to natural and cultural assets.
Large feral herbivore management is strategic
Management of LFH should be strategic in order to maximise both effectiveness and return on investment. Management should be proactive and well planned to ensure that management actions are undertaken in appropriate locations, at the optimum time using the most appropriate techniques. Prevention and early intervention are the most cost-effective techniques. Management should address actual rather than perceived problems, and to reduce impacts rather than animal numbers. Management must be continued in perpetuity, even when LFH densities are low, in order to prevent populations re-establishing. As part of an integrated LFH management program, commercial harvesting may offset management costs in some circumstances.
Large feral herbivore management embraces new technologies and innovation
Research and development can identify and evaluate new technologies to be used in LFH management. This can introduce new, efficient ways or improve existing methods of applying limited resources to LFH management.
Capacity building is essential to ensure effective LFH management
Effective LFH management requires capacity of government, landholders and the community to be adequate for the task. Management activities should be sufficiently resourced, and capacity building should be prioritised. Stakeholders require specific skills, tools and resources to undertake effective LFH management. Cooperation and collaboration at the landscape-scale should be promoted, while effective leadership adequate with the local, regional or state-wide scale of the management activity or role should be identified, fostered and resourced to maximise collective impact.