Conservation History Timeline
The forming of the Mt Manning Range Reserve has been an integral part of the inclusion of Helena and Aurora Range within conservation estate. The following is a time line of the main events that have occurred since the 1960s of attempts to protect Banded Ironstone Formation Ranges north of Southern Cross. A summation of the outcomes to date is given at the end of the timeline.
- The Western Australian Subcommittee of the Australia Academy of Science Committee on National Parks recommended Mount Manning Range area as a Reserve.
- The Reserves Advisory Council recommended that the Mt Manning Range area be made a reserve to protect the flora and fauna.
- The Conservation Through Reserves Committee (CTRC) originally put forward the proposal for Mt Manning Range Nature Reserve in the Green Book. (Conservation Through Reserves Committee (1984). Conservation reserves in Western Australia. Green Book Systems. 1-5, 8-12. Report to the Environmental Protection Authority)
- The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) produced the Red Book, Conservation Reserves in Western Australia. Red Book Systems, which included recommendations for areas to be classed as conservation reserves in Western Australia. Proposal 11.3 recommended Mt Manning Nature Reserve for reservation with the potential of including Jackson Range and Die Hardy Range following further investigation. Proposal 11.4 excluded the Mt Manning Range. The establishment of conservation reserves under the recommendations of the Red Book continues to this day and the Department of Environment and Conservation is responsible for administering these recommendations. (Environmental Protection Authority (1975). Conservation reserves for Western Australia. Red Book Systems 4, 8, 9, 10-12)
- Mt Manning Range Nature Reserve (No. 36208) was declared for the purpose of conservation of flora and fauna and gazetted as a C Class Nature Reserve (190,121 ha) in September 1979. The central Mt Manning Range was excluded as this area was a Mining Act Ministerial Temporary Reserve (1971H).
- In the Scientific Journal Western Australian Naturalist GJ Keighery (Botanist) proposed that Banded Ironstone Ranges be included within the Mount Manning Nature Reserve to conserve their unique flora and vegetation.
- Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) purchased Mt Elvire Pastoral Lease to add to the conservation reserve system. These were purchased using funding from the sandalwood industry (towards achieving management objectives under the former sandalwood Conservation and Regeneration Project).
- The biological surveys of the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia, Part 3 Jackson – Kalgoorlie Study Area by the WA Museum and Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) during 1979 to 1981 was published. Many new plant species were found including on Helena and Aurora Range, as well as range extensions for several reptile species. The mammals and plants were considered to be diverse and among the richest in the eastern goldfields. It was noted that none of the banded ironstone formation hills in this area were represented in any reserves.
- Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) purchased Jaurdi Pastoral Lease (including the low Mt Finnerty Ranges and Watt Hills) to add to the conservation reserve system. These were purchased using funding from the sandalwood industry (towards achieving management objectives under the former sandalwood Conservation and Regeneration Project).
- A review of the biological data for Die Hardy, Mt Jackson and Helena and Aurora Range area supported their inclusion in an expanded Mount Manning Range Nature Reserve in a report submitted to the EPA Red Book Task Force in May 1989 titled; “Nature Conservation Reserve Recommendations for the Mt Manning Range Area” (by N. Henry-Hall).
- The EPA Red Book Task Force Conservation Through Reserves Committee (CTRC) System 11 Report again recommends for the expansion of Mount Manning Reserve
- Mt Elvire Pastoral Station was purchased by Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) to add to the conservation reserve system.
- Red Book Status Report (1993) on the implementation of conservation reserves for Western Australia, recommendations by the EPA.
- The “Goldfields Region Management Plan 1994-2004” (Department Conservation and Land Management, Management Plan No. 27) was published in December 1994. Recommendations included that Mt Manning Nature Reserve retain its C Class status due to pre-existing mining tenements and that the range itself be included (formerly occupied by Temporary Reserve 1971). Also that Mt Manning Nature Reserve be extended southward to include Helena and Aurora Range (vacant crown land at the time) and have C Class status.
- Hunt Range was incorporated within Mt Manning Nature Reserve.
- The EPA recommended against mining at Windarling Ridge in Koolyanobbing Iron Ore Expansion, Report and recommendations of the Environmental Protection Authority, Bulletin 1082; 2002. The State Government overturned the recommendation.
- A media statement on 28 October 2004 from the office of the environment minister Judy Edwards stated that the Helena and Aurora Range would become an A Class Nature Reserve as well as the Die Hardy Range, Yokradine Hills and Boondine Hills, all part of Mount Manning Range Nature Reserve. This was under the agreement to give the go ahead for mining of Windarling Ridge and Mt Jackson Range. Cabinet overthrew that decision a few days later with the intention to make the area a Conservation Park, allowing mining, rather than a Class A Nature Reserve.
- Helena and Aurora Range Conservation Park (No. 48470) was created in December 2005 (~134,345 ha). In addition, Mt Manning Range Conservation Park (No. 48470), previously excluded from Mt Manning Range Nature Reserve, was created in December 2005 (~12,947 ha) and included Mt Manning Range. This was possible as the Mining Act Temporary Reserve (1971H) over Mt Manning Range expired and its tenure had changed to unallocated Crown land.
- The management of the Northern Yilgarn Conservation Reserves was under development and included the existing Mount Manning Nature Reserve and the four proposed additions; Helena and Aurora Range Conservation Park, Die Hardy, Mt Jackson and Windarling Conservation Park, Mt Elvire Conservation Park and Jaurdi Conservation Park. Public comments were sought.
- The report “Advice on areas of the highest conservation value in the proposed extensions to Mount Manning Nature Reserve” was published in May 2007 (Environmental Protection Authority, Bulletin 1256). Under section 16e advice of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 this advice was commissioned by the Environment Minister in 2005 with the objective to determine the areas of the highest conservation value within the proposed Mount Manning Range Nature Reserve.
- Publication of Nuytsia (volume 17, 2007) a special edition funded by the Western Australian Government's 'Saving our Species' biodiversity conservation initiative. This volume of Nuytsia included papers describing and naming several plant species that occur on Helena and Aurora Range (Lepidosperma bungalbin, Lepidosperma ferricola, Neurachne annularis, Leucopogon spectablis). There is also a paper indicating the high biodiversity values in the Yilgarn and the BIF ranges (pages 1-12). Authors: Neil Gibson, David Coates and Kevin Thiele.
- A “Strategic review of the Conservation and Resources Values Banded Ironstone Formation of the Yilgarn Craton” (Government of Western Australia) was published in August 2008. Three reports were presented in this document; (1) Strategic Review of the Banded Iron Formation Ranges of the Midwest and Goldfields (Department of Environment and Conservation and Department of Industries and Resources), (2) Banded Ironstone Formation Rasnges of the Midwest and Goldfields (Department of Environment and Conservation) and (3) Regional setting and benefits of mineral prospectivity economic benefits social benefits and impact (Department of Industry and Resources). The BIF ranges reviewed included all those within the northern half of the Yilgarn Craton, from Koolyanobbing Range (north of Southern Cross) to Jack Hills and Robinson Range (north of Meekathara). The Strategic Review committed to the creation of Class A Nature Reserves or National Parks over Helena and Aurora Range, Die Hardy Range and Mt Manning Range. The report indicated a pre-disposition against the development of these ranges. However, part of Helena and Aurora Range was excluded from Class A status, and was referred to as Bungalbin East.
- In March 2008 an Issues paper was published; “Northern Yilgarn (Mt Manning Range, Mt Elvire & Jaurdi) Conservation Reserves Management Plan”, which considered land tenure issues and recommended the Helena and Aurora Range as a Class A Nature Reserve or National Park (with the exception of Bungalbin east). Similarily, Mt Manning Range Nature Reserve and Mt Manning Range Conservation Park were recommended as A Class Nature Reserve or National Park. The Issues paper was available to the Public from April 2010 to comment on until the release of the draft Management Plan. Comments were invited from all stakeholders via a Management Plan Newsletter.
Exert from Issues paper
The Northern Yilgarn (Mt Manning Range, Mt Elvire & Jaurdi) Conservation Reserves include:
- Mt Manning Range Nature Reserve (36208);
- Mt Manning Range Conservation Park (48470);
- Helena and Aurora Range Conservation Park (48470);
- Proposed Jaurdi Conservation Park;
- Proposed Mt Elvire Conservation Park; and
- Proposed Die Hardy/Jackson/Windarling Range Reserves.
- The Draft Management Plan for the Northern Yilgarn (Mt Manning Range Nature Reserve, Mt Elvire and Jaurdi) Conservation Reserves was submitted for the approvals process, where it would go before the Minister for the Environment and then to Cabinet.
- Media release on 1st September 2010 by Minister for Environment Donna Faragher and Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore announcing the new nature conservation and mining arrangements for the Mt Manning area, north of Southern Cross. The arrangements were to “... ensure the proper management of significant nature conservation values in the region and certainty for industry regarding investment.”
The reserves included the following tenures:
- Helena and Aurora Range remaining as a Conservation Park (allows mining).
- Mt Manning Reserve still a reserve with the exclusion of a section over Mt Manning Range vested as a Conservation Park.
- Former Mt Elvire Pastoral Lease, Mt Finnerty Range (former Jaurdi Pastoral Lease), Hunt Range, Johnson Range (Diemals Pastoral Lease), Windarling Range (Diemals Pastoral Lease), and Mt Jackson Range (formerly Mt Jackson Pastoral Lease) proposed to be reserves for conservation and mining under section 5(1)(h) of the Conservation and Land Management Act 1985.
- Areas of former Mt Elvire Pastoral Lease and former Jaurdi Pastoral Lease not including Banded Ironstone Formation geology proposed as Conservation Parks.
- Most of Die Hardy Range proposed as a Class A Nature Reserve, excluding a mineralised portion in the south-east.
- On 15 October 2013 The Wilderness Society (TWS), Helena and Aurora Range Adovocates (HARA) and the Wildflower Society of Western Australia launched a proposal for Helena and Auorora Range, Bungalbin to be made a Class A National Park. Document is titled "Proposal for the creation of the Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin) 'Class A' National Park, A jewel in the Great Western Woodlands".
- On 16 October 2013 the EPA Annual Report 2012-2013 was tabled in Parliament. Under the heading "Land" the EPA presented one 'Pressure point' (Banded Iron Formation Ranges, Yilgarn Craton) and four 'Key issues' (Rehabilitation of disturbed landscapes, Cumulative impacts on the Swan Coastal Plain, Perth-Peel Regions, South West forest health and Whicher Scarp). Under "Pressure point - Banded Iron Formation Ranges, Yilgarn Craton" the EPA expressed it's concerns that there is a significant imbalance between development and conservation of the Banded Ironstone Formation ranges with their unique landscapes and species they support. The EPA also stated in the last paragraph for this section that "Given the significant biodiversity values of the Helena and Aurora Range, which have been confirmed in contemporary published research, the EPA is adopting a presumption against any further development for those parts of the range that are within the conservation park identified in the government's framework for the Mt Manning region." The EPA also recognised the development pressure on the BIF ranges Mungada, Karara and Koolanooka and was reviewing information on their conservation values.
- On 2 November 2013 the proposal for Helena and Aurora Range to be a Class A National Park was acknowledged in the Labor Party (WA) Platform within a resolution passed on 2 November 2013 at the WA Labor 2013 Conference. The wording of the resolution was: "8. WA Labor supports the addition of areas of high conservation value into the conservation estate. We note the proposal for the Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin) to form a ‘Class A’ National Park."
July 2014 to April 2015
- The EPA opens public submissions on the level of assessment for the referred J5 and Bungalbin East Iron Ore mine proposal from 2-8 July 2014. A total of 1,004 submissions were received.
- The EPA releases its recommendation on level of assessment for the J5 and Bungalbin East Iron Ore proposal as API Category B (Environmentally unacceptable) on 1 December 2014. The EPA Report 1537 was released on 12 January 2015.
- Following an appeals process the Minister for the Environment, Albert Jacob, announced his determination on 21 April 2015 - that he allowed the appeals and requested that the proposal be remitted to the EPA and assessed at the Public Environmental Review (PER) level of assessment.
- The Aboriginal Materials and Culture Bureau registered seven sacred sites on Bungalbin (Helena and Aurora Range). The seven sacred sites were registered based on the findings of a report: Aboriginal Heritage Survey Report Consultations on Bungalbin East Site with Ngalia People for Mineral Resources Ltd (Kado Muir), November 2016.
- Following the PER process of assessment, on 28 June 2017, the EPA released its Report 1599 and recommendation on the J5 and Bungalbin East Iron Ore project that the project NOT BE IMPLEMENTED.
- The recommendation was based on - That three of the six Key Environmental Factors were not manageable:
- Flora and Vegetation
- Social Surroundings
Also - That for one Key Environmental Factor: Subterranean Fauna, the likely residual impact to Troglofauna remains significant
- Following an appeals process and the completion of the Appeals Convenor’s report the Minister for the Environment, Stephen Dawson, announced on 24 November 2017 that he had dismissed all nine appeals.
- On 21 December 2017, the Minister for the Environment, Stephen Dawson, and Cabinet of WA government released a media statement “State government preserves unique Helena-Aurora Range
- Mining proposal in the Yilgarn region [J5 and Bungalbin East Iron Ore project] not to proceed
- Decision is final and without appeal
- Investigations to create a class A reserve over the Helena-Aurora Range to commence
On 22 December 2017 the Traditional Owners of Bungalbin (Helena and Aurora Range) lodged their Native Title application Marlinyu Ghoorlie.
- On 20 February, the McGowan Government released their initiative Plan for Our Parks, where five million hectares of new national and marine parks and reserves will be established over the next five years. This initiative aimed to "provide enhanced biodiversity conservation and build on Aboriginal joint management throughout Western Australia". The Plan for Our Parks included an "opportunity for a Helena Aurora National Park". "The Plan for Our Parks will see new and expanded parks for the Kimberley in the north, across WA's Rangelands, through population centres in Perth and Bunbury, to our south-west forests and along our southern coastlines." Plan for Our Parks included at least a further seven new national parks, one (possibly two) new marine parks, one new nature reserve, one new conservation reserve, one new coastal reserve, one new regional park plus additions to four national parks, a regional park and a terrestrial reserve.
The Traditional Owners of Bungalbin (Helena and Aurora Range) had their Marlinyu Ghoorlie Native Title Claim application accepted for registration.
The Director General, Mark Webb, of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) provided an update letter on progress being made for Plan for Our Parks (Source: DBCA website). Actions achieved included the creation of Houtman Abrlhos Islands National Park, addition of site L to Murujuga National Park, the creation of a Class A reserve over the Beeliar Wetlands, negotiations of Indigenopus Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) for Buccaneer Archipelago Marine Park, Fitzroy River National Park, Matuwa Kurrarra Kurrarra National Park, Lake Mason National Park and Kaluwiri National Park, preparation of draft management plan for Nyinggulu (Ningaloo) coastal reserves and progressing expansions to Wellington National Park and the Preston River to Ocean and Leschenault Regional Parks (Greater Bunbury Regional Park).
The decision by the WA government in 2017 to not allow mining on Helena and Aurora Range provides a very real opportunity to protect at least one Banded Ironstone Formation (BIF) range in the Yilgarn region. The first in almost 40 years. The Plan for Our Parks initiative by the McGowen Government ensures that this opportunity could become a reality.
Up until 2017, calls for the conservation of the biodiversity of any of the BIF ranges, has either not been acted on or been ineffective in protecting the ranges from mining. The Mount Manning Nature Reserve system in particular, with its existing and proposed conservation tenure, appears to have afforded little to no protection from mining.
There is currently no protection from mining activity for Helena and Aurora Range within its existing vesting as a Conservation Park, as conservation parks allow mining. Even in 2008, when it was proposed that Helena and Aurora Range be given Class A conservation status, it was suggested that a portion of the range be excluded (proposed in the Strategic Review). This was the Bungalbin East deposit, located at the northern end of the main range of Helena and Aurora. Regardless of established high conservation values it was clear that certainty of access was being given to the mining industry (where there were known high value mineral deposits such as iron ore). From a mining and economic perspective this makes perfect sense. From a conservation perspective, the outcome is a continuing loss of our biodiversity and natural heritage.
Within the Mount Manning Reserve system (“Northern Yilgarn (Mt Manning Range Nature Reserve, Mt Elvire and Jaurdi) Conservation Reserves”), the Mt Manning Reserve (currently C Class status) does not include the BIF range. Rather, Mt Manning Range was vested within a conservation park (which allows mining) as was Helena and Aurora Range in 2005.
The proposed Class A Nature Reserve at Die Hardy Range (including those parts that lie west of Bullfinch-Evanston Road) announced on 1 September 2010 by the WA government was welcomed and may well have only been possible due to a lack of any mining interests in that area. Class A conservation status is the highest form of protection currently available within the Western Australia legislation (Environmental Protection Act 1986). This would be a very positive step for the conservation of Die Hardy Range, a BIF with high conservation values for biodiversity and landform. However, the proposal has yet to be acted on, seven years later in 2017.
A Class A reserve affords the highest protection currently available as any changes to a Class A reserve, such as a mine proposal, needs to have the consent of both the lower and upper houses of parliament (as well as an EPA assessment) - to be approved. This has not happened since the 1970s.
For the long term security of Class A reserves, it is still a significant question for the current day and the future as to whether both mining and financial companies in Western Australia will treat or acknowledge Class A Reserves as effectively "No Go Areas" for mining. Ultimately, it is in the hands of future WA governments and the Western Australian community to ensure the long term security of Class A reserves from mining.
Please refer to Bibliography / References.