ON 16th January, WA Business News published an article regarding Ningaloo Reef and Australian Wildlife Conservancy entitled “Wedged on the Reef”.
AWC and its directors, Martin Copley and Barry Wilson, were disappointed the newspaper failed to contact any of them prior to publishing the article. That failure led to the article containing numerous inaccuracies about the AWC, Mr Copley and Mr Wilson.
For the record, AWC wishes readers to know of the facts about AWC and its interest in the conservation of Ningaloo Reef.
AWC is a registered non-profit conservation organisation dedicated to the conservation of Australian wildlife. Thousands of donors across Australia support AWC and its conservation goals.
AWC currently has 10 sanctuaries across Australia protecting a diversity of habitats ranging from rainforest and semi arid grasslands to tropical savanna and mangrove-lined lagoons. These sanctuaries protect 16 nationally threatened mammal species and at least 10 nationally threatened birds.
Active on-ground conservation programmes take place at these sanctuaries, including fauna surveys and translocations and feral predator control and eradication.
Over the last 10 years many successful programmes have been conducted on AWC sanctuary land, the latest of which in WA are the re-establishment of Black-flanked Rock Wallabies in the Avon Valley Sanctuary and the Shark Bay Mice and Burrowing Bettongs to the Faure Island Sanctuary in Shark Bay.
Part of AWC’s ‘charter’ is to raise public awareness of the plight of Australia’s threatened wildlife. Accordingly, the public are able to visit most of AWC’s sanctuaries for walks or to camp.
As a registered non-profit organisation, AWC’s constitution prevents any distribution of income or profits. That is, all income from any walks or camping must be reinvested in conservation. In any event, income from visitor programmes in 2001/2002 amounted to around 2.5 per cent of AWC income (the rest being primarily from donations).
AWC has acquired, at market value, a 25 per cent interest in the Ningaloo pastoral lease.
AWC supports the Save Ningaloo campaign because they are opposed to the proposed Maud’s Landing development. If it were to proceed, AWC believes the development would cause serious and irreversible damage to Ningaloo Reef and its associated ecosystems and wildlife.
AWC’s motivation for supporting Save Ningaloo is the satis-faction of being part of a community effort to save an environmental treasure and to ensure that our children and grandchildren will inherit and enjoy the rich natural heritage of Ningaloo.
It is the same motivation that has inspired tens of thousands of Australians to oppose the proposed development and support, in their own way, the Save Ningaloo campaign.
Mr Copley and Dr Wilson are similarly motivated by a desire to protect Australia’s threatened wildlife, including at Ningaloo.
Although supporting the Save Ningaloo Campaign and its goals, AWC has not donated any money to the Save Ningaloo Campaign.
AWC has proudly released details of its plans for the Ningaloo lease, which it part owns. AWC would like to establish at Ningaloo:
p a conservation area, surrounded by a feral proof fence to exclude foxes and cats, which will protect endangered sea turtles, black-flanked rock wallabies and reintroduced mammals such as the bilby;
p a marine research station comprising wet and dry laboratories and accommodation for visiting scientists and staff; and
p to ensure the area is not ‘locked up’, a low key bushcamp comprising 10 seasonally removable safari style tents (max 2 persons per tent) and an associated visitor’s centre.
Establishment and maintenance of the proposed Ningaloo marine research station and the conservation area would be funded primarily by donations, with a percentage of costs hopefully recovered from fees paid by scientific institutions using the research facilities and by revenue from the 10 tent bushcamp.
No reasonable person could ever conclude that AWC’s proposal for 10 tents (a maximum of 20 people) is a ‘rival development’ to the massive Maud’s Landing development, which would accommodate more than 2,000 people in Stage 1.