The biodiversity of our region is our greatest asset…
We live in one of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots. The south west of WA is the only internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot in Australia. To be recognized as a hotspot for biodiversity means that our region is home to an extraordinary number of unique species but these are under threat from development, changing land use and climate change.
A Plethora of Flora and Fauna
The Cape to Cape Catchment covers approximately 97118 ha. About two thirds of this area is native vegetation, and between 75% and 80% of south west vegetation is endemic, meaning it doesn’t live anywhere else. These remnant forests and wetlands are incredibly important; they are habitat for many rare native plant and animal species which are also endemic to our region. There are currently 30 plant species classified as Declared Rare Flora within the Cape to Cape region.
Approximately 24 mammal species and 44 reptile and amphibian species are known to occur here and there are at least 100 species of birds. While many of these are common, many others are now rare or restricted in range and have been afforded special protection status.
26 vegetation communities have been identified in this area, each with their own unique characteristics. The climate, formation of the land and its soils influence the types of vegetation and therefore the animals that reside here.
Coastal heath stretches from the beach along the Leeuwin Naturaliste ridge, approximately 150 species of dense shrubs exist. Exposed and pruned by the salt laden winds these plants have extensive root systems which bind the sand and limestone together, without them the ridge would have collapsed a long time ago. Many local and migratory birds are present. Reptiles such as the carpet python and bobtail lizard make this their home with open areas exposed to the sun for warmth and sheltered hiding places amongst the rocks and heath.
Jarrah-marri forest is the most widespread in the eastern region and along with peppermint, banksia and sheoak woodlands they provide a refuge for local native animals. The ringtail possum for example lives in the peppermint forests and is now listed as vulnerable due to loss of habitat through land clearing and predation from foxes.
Old growth forests are also important as the mature trees contain hollows for nesting and breeding. These are home for the red tailed black cockatoo, who is totally dependant on the jarrah-marri forests.
The Cape to Cape catchments is the northernmost extent to which karri forests exist in Western Australia, due to the increased rainfall in the area and small patches of rich dark soils in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park. They are isolated from the large areas of karri further south and east and have therefore developed unique understory species such as the western karri wattle.