Rio Tinto and the Western Australian Government have announced a strategic partnership to protect the biodiversity of the Pilbara.  

As part of the Pilbara Conservation Project, Rio Tinto will allocate $8 million over five years to support the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ (DBCA) delivery of weed management, feral animal control and bushfire management at Karijini National Park, Millstream Chichester National Park and other sites in the region. 

The partnership will also support the creation of five new full-time jobs, plus training and fee-for-service work for Aboriginal ranger groups. 

The Pilbara has high species richness and many endemic plants and animals, including one of the richest reptile assemblages in the world, more than 125 species of acacia and more than 1,000 species of aquatic invertebrates. 

Species in the region that are listed by the Federal Government as matters of national environmental significance include the northern quoll, Pilbara olive python, greater bilby, ghost bat and Pilbara leaf-nosed bat. 

On-ground works connected to the Pilbara Conservation Project are currently being rolled out throughout the region by the DBCA’s Parks and Wildlife Service. 

Western Australian Minister for the Environment, Reece Whitby, said that conservation is a shared responsibility, and that this new partnership demonstrates how government, industry and Traditional Owners can work together to manage biodiversity values through practical, on-ground actions. 

“Karijini National Park is the Pilbara’s key tourist attraction receiving more than 300,000 visitors annually, with this project ensuring its conservation status well into the future,” Mr Whitby said.  

Rio Tinto Vice President, Health, Safety, Environment and Communities, Cecile Thaxter, said that this project will enable the DBCA and Traditional Owners to continue caring for Country and importantly put Traditional Owner knowledge at the heart of conservation management for this environmentally, culturally, and economically significant region. 

“Maintaining Pilbara biodiversity is critical not only for our business today but also for future generations within the region, and we recognise our responsibility to understand and effectively mitigate our impacts on nature through collaborative partnerships,” Ms Thaxter said.  

“Partnerships like the Pilbara Conservation Project are crucial to delivering nature-positive outcomes, with collaboration, resource sharing, innovation, local engagement and collective effort needed to address the complex challenges with environmental conservation and restoration.” 

Image: Ryan Hoi/shutterstock.com 

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