Cocanarup is a Noongar word meaning “place where water always stays”. The name originally referred to a spring in the Phillips River valley, but more recently it has been applied to the Cocanarup Timber Reserve, a substantial area of native vegetation that includes a large expanse of mature salmon gum woodland. Located 15 km south-west of Ravensthorpe and encompassing some 9000 ha it and its wider surrounding area (totalling some 65,000 ha) is known to have significant natural and cultural heritage values, some of which are clearly of national significance.

However, mineral exploration and haphazard management are now placing many of these values under threat. There are mining tenements over much of the area, and exploration activity undertaken recently has left deep scars on the landscape, including significant negative impacts in critical nesting habitat for the endangered Carnaby’s black-cockatoo. At the same time, because the area is largely Unallocated Crown Land or unmanaged reserve, uncoordinated management actions are also threatening the values of the area.

The Cocanarup Conservation Alliance Inc. (CCA) is a not for profit organisation that is dedicated to the full protection of the wider Cocanarup - Kundip area. CCA has as its stated objective: “To protect and promote the environmental and cultural integrity of the Ravensthorpe region.”

CCA acts as a focal point for local community members and like-minded organisations who support our goals, providing communication and coordination of activities to:

  • Develop and document a clear understanding of the unique natural and cultural values of the Cocanarup Timber Reserve and the wider area as shown on the map below. See our Summary of Values.
  • Coordinate and focus community support for the conservation and promotion of this area and its values, and
  • Ensure decision-makers, planners and government agencies recognise these values, and work with us to exclude mining activity and other threats from this area until it can be made a Class A Reserve.

Proposed Cocanarup A Class Reserve Satellite MapCCA's Class A Reserve proposal

Current Land Tenure of Class A Reserve areaCurrent Land Tenure of Class A Reserve area

The campaign to conserve Cocanarup – Kundip

During the first half of 2019 CCA prepared a full-scale submission regarding the addition of this area to Western Australia’s conservation estate. This 56-page document utilised much of the material on the website, and was augmented by a detailed review of all the past reports that have recommended the area be Nature Reserve (or similar). Copies were lodged with the Minister for the Environment, Hon Stephen Dawson, MLC, DBCA head office and Plan for Our Parks team, DBCA regional office in Albany, and Dept of Mines, Industrial Relations & Safety (DMIRS), Environmental Compliance Branch.

In the spirit of open communication, copies were also provided to the three mining companies with the major exploration tenements in the area, Galaxy Resources, Lithium Australia and ACH Minerals.

Our proposal soon found its way into the Government’s “Plan for Our Parks” program, which is being driven by DBCA (see: https://www.dbca.wa.gov.au/parks-and-wildlife-service/plan-for-our-parks).

Given that this was certain to be a highly competitive process, as DBCA already had well more than the target of 5 million hectares on its list of possibilities, CCA set out to make sure all relevant government ministers and agencies knew of the intense community support for this area. To this end, CCA and many of its members and supporters wrote submissions and letters urging adoption of our proposal.

The positive impact of this phase of the campaign was acknowledged by both the office of the Minister for the Environment, Hon Stephen Dawson MLC, and DBCA itself, who separately noted the “extensive community support for conservation of the area”. It seemed we were gaining significant traction – but we remained concerned that Plan for Our Parks would take some years to be finalised, potentially exposing the extraordinary combination of conservation and cultural values - and the relative intactness - of the Cocanarup – Kundip area to the negative impacts of ongoing exploration activity (See “Threats posed by exploration”) and general lack of appropriate management.

In March 2020, CCA received a letter from the Premier, Hon Mark McGowan MLA, which indicated a substantial change of direction on the part of the government…

The pivot to an entirely different process: the South West Native Title Settlement

The letter from the Premier received in March 2020 acknowledged the “invaluable contribution the Cocanarup Conservation Alliance has made to protecting Cocanarup-Kundip” and then went on to say:

“As you have mentioned, Cocanarup-Kundip has significant biodiversity value and Aboriginal cultural heritage value to the Noongar people. It is also subject to mining interests with locations prospective for lithium and other minerals. Noting these values and interests and the areas location within the South West Native Title Settlement (SWNTS) area, relevant State Government departments have advised that, in the first instance, the most appropriate mechanism to consider the potential reservation of the area is through the SWNTS.

The SWNTS is creating the Noongar Land Estate, providing a significant asset to be developed in line with Noongar cultural, social and economic aspirations. The Noongar Land Estate will be held by the Noongar Boodja Trust and supported by the Noongar Land Base Strategy, under which the WA Government will transfer:

  • up to 300,000 hectares of land allocated as reserve or leasehold; and
  • up to 20,000 hectares of land allocated as freehold for cultural or economic development use.”

In effect, this means that our Cocanarup-Kundip Class A Reserve proposal is now no longer part of the Plan For Our Parks program, but instead is being considered for potential inclusion in the SWNTS reserves area.

Since March 2020 when this new direction was announced, progress has been slow but deliberate. The necessary legal framework for the Noongar Boodja Trust has been established, as has the entity Wagyl Kaip and Southern Noongar Aboriginal Corporation as the responsible native title body for this area. Currently Wagyl Kaip members are considering the options for land to be included in the Noongar Land Estate and this includes Cocanarup and large areas of Unallocated Crown Land in the Ravensthorpe area.

Join the Cocanarup Conservation Alliance Inc

If you share our concerns and subscribe to our values please join CCA Inc. We do not charge membership fees and encourage both individual and organisational membership.

Gallery

Black Cockatoo Crisis rally on steps of WA Parliament House, May 2023Black Cockatoo Crisis rally on steps of WA Parliament House, May 2023.
Photo: Jane Hammond

CCA members in Cocanarup celebrating the DEMIRS refusal of Bulletin Resources clearing application, 5th May 2024CCA members in Cocanarup celebrating the DEMIRS refusal of Bulletin Resources clearing application, 5th May 2024.
Photo: Cocanarup Conservation Alliance

Our Associates

Birdlife Western Australia
GondwanaLink
Western Australian Naturalists Club
Wildflower Society of Western Australia
 
Fitzgerald Biosphere Group
Friends of the Fitzgerald River National Park
Ravensthorpe Agricultural Initiative Network
Ravensthorpe Historical Society
Ravensthorpe Progress Association
Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show