- Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute will initially focus on landscapes in the Pilbara, Kimberley, South-West and the Western Desert Lands
- Biodiversity and marine science among five priority areas in the Science Statement for Western Australia announced last April
A new science institute which will protect, conserve and ensure the sustainable management of Western Australia's unique flora and fauna will be launched tonight by Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett.
The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI) will also facilitate the development and uptake of scientific knowledge to protect the State's terrestrial biodiversity and will support the development of a database for use as a public resource.
"WA is home to one of the world's richest diversities of plant and animal life, including eight of Australia's 15 terrestrial biodiversity hotspots," Mr Barnett said.
"For example, the Fitzgerald River Ravensthorpe hotspot has more species of flowering plants than the entire United Kingdom."
The Premier said the State was already an international leader in biodiversity research and WABSI would cement this position.
"We are doing a great deal in this field already. The Keiran McNamara Conservation Science Centre in Kensington is dedicated to the conservation of flora and fauna and work by the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority with the mining industry is ensuring sustainable development," he said.
"At the Biodiversity Conservation Centre in Kings Park researchers have been cultivating a plant native to the central Wheatbelt which was last seen in the wild in 1994.
"Science is crucial to ensuring our rich and unique biodiversity assets are here for future generations to enjoy. At the same time, the main drivers of our economy - mineral exploration and processing, broadacre agriculture and tourism - intersect with the State's biodiversity, as does urban development."
The institute will manage more than $60 million of current, fully funded research, and will aim to attract significant new research funding to WA, including from the Australian Government. The funding comprises $40 million from national and international sources, $15 million from industry and $5.5 million from the State Government.
- WABSI's foundation members are the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, CSIRO, Curtin University, the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Department of Mines and Petroleum, Murdoch University, the Office of the Environmental Protection Authority, The University of Western Australia and the WA Museum
Premier's office - 6552 5000