(Australian Associated Press)
A 23-kilometre-long fence on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula will protect native animals from feral predators and provide a safe haven for threatened wildlife.
The fence, which will enclose more than 148,000 hectares, is part of a project which aims to return up to 20 native species to the peninsula in a bid to boost tourism and improve agricultural productivity.
Among the species to be re-introduced will be the brush-tailed bettong, red-tailed phascogale and southern-brown bandicoot.
Northern and Yorke Natural Resources Management Board team leader Max Barr said many species had disappeared due to feral predators and the clearing of vegetation.
“Feral cats and foxes have wreaked havoc on native animal populations in this area and farmers have also lost valuable stock to these predators, so the fence is an important first milestone,” he said.
“We can’t wind back the clock to 200 years ago, but we can try to restore key species to the system and create a landscape that balances healthy wildlife populations with prosperous farmland and tourism.”
The area to be sectioned off comprises the Innes National Park, remnant vegetation, farmland and small townships.
The project was launched on Wednesday with an event at Warooka and is due for completion by March.
It is a collaboration between the state and federal governments, the Resources Management Board, the World Wide Fund for Nature – Australia (WWF) and other groups.
WWF-Australia’s head of healthy land and seascapes Darren Grover said the project could prove crucial in helping to reverse the country’s extinction crisis.
“It’s a groundbreaking effort to put the missing pieces of a healthy landscape back together,” he said.
“Getting the balance right between the animals, the landscape and the people that share it will demand some careful planning.
“It’s a bold and radical idea, but business as usual is no longer an option.”