All the lighter areas in this satellite image of south-western Australia have been cleared for European agriculture, mainly the growing of wheat. For those Perth citizens naive enough to think endless Aussie bush lies beyond the edges of their sunny city, this photo is worth dwelling on.
The South-west Botanical Province accounts for only 0.23 per cent of the earth’s land surface but it supports 12.6 per cent of the world’s rare and threatened flora. This is because we live in quite a special place, and around 93 per cent of the vegetation communities in this special place have been cleared for agriculture. Over previous millienia each afternoon’s sea breeze dumped layers of salt on the land. The native flora kept the salt below the water table, but now it has risen back to the surface, killing everything in its way.
Putting it simply, life around here is very biodiverse, and the land east of Perth, the so called ‘wheat-belt’, is a mess. There are people doing something about this state of play. For example, The Australian Bush Heritage Fund has bought a massive conservation reserve in an area called the Charles Darwin Reserve. You can read about it, and also find out a bit more about life in these parts, at the Charles Darwin Reserve website.