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Western field centre puts out welcome mat

A multi-purpose field study centre has opened its doors and put out a welcome mat for visitors to the Great Western Woodlands Supersite.

The centre is located at Credo Station, a former pastoral property in Western Australia’s Goldfields region, a dusty 90 minutes’ drive from Kalgoorlie. The station lies in the internationally significant Great Western Woodlands region, which covers 16 million hectares in south-west Western Australia and is the largest remaining intact temperate or ‘Mediterranean’ woodland in the world.

Established by TERN’s Australian Supersite Network in cooperation with the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) and CSIRO, the centre is also supported by the Goldfields Environmental Management Group.

Fifty-five people attended the official opening of the centre on 22 October; this was a remarkable number considering the remoteness of the site. TERN Director Professor Tim Clancy and Supersites Coordinator Dr Mirko Karan were there to mark the occasion, and so were stakeholders from many fields. They included representatives of the Goldfields Land and Sea Council (the traditional custodians of the region), local and state representatives of DPaW, the CSIRO, the Goldfields–Esperance Development Commission (GEDC), local pastoralists, mining companies, volunteers, conservation groups and the local news media. Visitors even had a chance to get up close and personal with the 36m OzFlux tower that monitors the energy, water and carbon balance at the site.

The facility will be used by scientists doing research aimed at providing a better understanding of the ecology of the Great Western Woodlands and the impact climate change is likely to have on the region. It has already become a hotbed of activity for TERN facilities: AusCover, OzFlux, AusPlots, the Australian Supersite Network and the Australian Transect Network all have a presence in the woodlands. The work they do will address land management issues that have both national and regional importance to agriculture, mining, pastoralism and biodiversity.

CSIRO scientist Dr Suzanne Prober, who coordinates the GWW Supersite, said the field study centre would complement projects already under way at the supersite.

‘Our work at the supersite is helping us to understand how these woodlands work, and hence the best ways to manage and conserve them,’ she says.

The juxtaposition of important research infrastructure has meant that partners can leverage off it to attract further investment, for example from the GEDC. This, in turn, has created the environment which has seen the opening of the Credo Field Study Centre, which will be a resource not just for research but for the local community and local managers.

Data collected at Credo will be invaluable in providing an information framework for the region, as well as helping scientists unlock the secrets of how ecosystems here flourish. The infrastructure can be used for educating school groups and the public by providing evidence-based interpretive information that can be used for further study.

DPaW Acting Director General Mr Jim Sharp said the centre would help create awareness about the diversity and significance of the region.

‘Part of what has come out of the Great Western Woodlands and the Credo project is the acknowledgement that this region is an important place biologically and ecologically, not just for minerals,’ he says.

‘Now we have a site which will help us collect long-term data and monitor what is happening. People will be informed.’

 

Dr Suzanne Prober speaks at the opening of the field study centre (left) before the group is taken on a tour of the OzFlux tower (right) and supersite.

 

A brief video showcasing the opening of the GWW SuperSite.

 

Published in TERN Newsletter October 2013

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