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Fortescue Marsh

Region: Pilbara


The Fortescue Marsh is the largest ephemeral wetland in the Pilbara region and is of national significance, being a High Conservation Value Aquatic Ecosystem (HCVAE). It is regarded as the ‘lungs of the Pilbara’ with extensive Mulga woodlands including flora and fauna of high conservation value. It is Traditional Country and the Marsh is variously shared by the Banjima People, the Nyiyaparli People and the Palyku People. It is impacted by fire feral predators and feral herbivores.

In 2015 the Marsh was excised from the pastoral estate with the goal of turning the area into a Conservation estate, a process that could take up to 10 years to implement due to the complexities of the development of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the various Traditional Owners. This provides a unique opportunity for Rangelands NRM to continue the work which commenced under Pilbara Corridors by working with the diverse stakeholders to create a shared ‘tenure blind’ vision for both the Fortescue Marsh Strategy and surrounding pastoral estate. This work will include Traditional Owner pastoral enterprise (e.g. Yandeyarra) and Aboriginal ranger groups (Banjima Rangers in Tom Price, Yandeyarra rangers, Ngurawaana Rangers and fledgling Nyiyaparli people).

Key EBBC or priority fauna in area:

  • Vulnerable Bilby (Macrotis lagotis)
  • Endangered Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus)
  • Migratory birds

Other assets in the area:

  1. Productive Land Systems
  2. Fortescue Marsh Floodplain (Marillana station) – buffer for the marsh and listed in the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (species endemism and significant invertebrate diversity)
  3. Ephemeral wetlands
  4. Mulga Woodlands

People/Groups engaged in the area:

  1. Pastoralists
  2. Kimberley Pilbara Cattleman’s Association
  3. Department of Biodiversity conservation and Attractions (DBCA)
  4. Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia
  5. Pilbara Mesquite Management Committee (PMMC)
  6. Banjima People / Banjima Rangers Tom Price)
  7. Nyiyaparli people
  8. Palyku People (Budadee Rangers – Woodstock Abydos Protected Area)
  9. Department of Mines
  10. Pilbara Strategic Conservation Initiative (fund)
  11. University of Western Australia