Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the nineteenth century, the Peel region on the Swan Coastal Plain south of Perth, Australia consisted of a vast network of swamps, rivers, estuaries, and coastal dunes. This fragile ecosystem depended on regular winter rains to maintain its connectivity. After their arrival, early European settlers embarked on a process of systematic land clearing, draining, and damming which lasted over 150 years. The channelization and clearing of the Peel-Harvey Estuary’s catchment has changed the nature of the region from a once lush, wetland-based geography to a much drier system dominated by agricultural drains, grazing pastures, and urban areas.
In recent decades, local stakeholders have undertaken considerable work to rehabilitate the many wetlands and drains in the Peel-Harvey catchment but little, if any, habitat restoration has occurred within the marine region of the estuary. Marine habitats such as mangroves, saltmarshes, seagrasses, and shellfish reefs provide many benefits to coastal communities including fish production, recreation, water filtration, and coastal protection.
With support from the Alcoa Foundation, the Nature Conservancy is building a roadmap for comprehensive marine restoration of the Peel-Harvey Estuary. We are learning from community stakeholders; advancing shellfish restoration science in partnership with Murdoch University; and developing tools to identify priority restoration sites, helping us maximize benefits to natural habitats and the communities that depend on them.
The Alcoa Foundation’s support will ensure that TNC and our partners are equipped to restore the natural splendor of the Peel-Harvey, helping sustain the fisheries, tourism, and flood resilience benefits that this estuary provides to the surrounding communities.
A history of support:
For nearly two decades, the Alcoa Foundation has provided vital support for various TNC programs. With recent support from the Alcoa Foundation, TNC has worked with indigenous peoples in Australia, Brazil, and Canada to increase their capacity to steward millions of acres of land. The Alcoa Foundation contributed to planting 900,000 trees in Brazil’s threatened Atlantic Rainforest as part of TNC’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign. It also helped restore and replenish the Alto Tiete watershed, providing 3 million people with clean drinking water. In addition, the Alcoa Foundation has supported projects in Indiana that help restore critical watersheds and improve the health of the Wabash River.