Kim Hames

Kim Hames


Richard Court

Richard Court


    Premier unveils plan to return Black Swans to river

    2/12/2000 1:30 PM

    Premier Richard Court has unveiled a plan to increase the number of Black Swans on the river that bears their name.

    A ‘Bringing Back the Swans’ feasibility study by the Water and Rivers Commission has found that Black Swans and other waterbirds could be encouraged to frequent the lower and middle reaches of the river by establishing so-called ‘habitat havens’.

    Mr Court said that as a founding project the Government, through the Western Australian Planning Commission, would establish a Black Swan habitat on an island at the Ascot Waters development.

    The Government would also apply the Bringing Back the Swans project into future planning initiatives and existing foreshore management.

    “Black Swans have considerable significance for Western Australians,” the Premier said.

    They were among the first birds to be seen and described by European explorers with records dating back to sightings in July 1635 from Shark Bay.

    Their presence led to the naming of the Swan River and later to the Swan River Colony. The Black Swan became the emblem of the colony and later the State of WA.

    “Much of the swan’s original habitat has been affected by development, particularly in the last century, with the reclamation or dredging of shallow areas of foreshore and removal of fringing vegetation,” Mr Court said.

    “The water has also become more saline in some areas as a result of dredging of the river mouth and modifications to the catchment area.

    “Bringing Back the Swans also means bringing back the range of plants and animals that form and share their habitat, so when people see swans on the Swan River they can be confident that many other elements of the river’s flora and fauna are also present,” he said.

    Mr Court said he was confident the project would receive the support of the general community, local government and the private sector.

    “The local government councils of Perth, Melville and Victoria Park have also expressed interest in implementing swan friendly principles into redevelopments at appropriate sites along the river.”

    The idea of attracting a greater number of swans to the river has been suggested in the past, but the feasibility of the concept has not previously been investigated in great detail.

    The Water and Rivers Commission’s feasibility study included assessment of biological, engineering and financial requirements, and involved consultation with Government and community stakeholders.

    Water Resources Minister Dr Kim Hames said the study provided a blueprint for how swan compatible habitats could be created at numerous sites along the river.

    “Twenty-three potential sites downstream of Ashfield were assessed as part of the feasibility study, with some prominent sites offering better opportunities than others,” Dr Hames said.

    “Four of these sites - Attadale Reserve, Sir James Mitchell Park, Ascot Waters and Clontarf Bay at Waterford - were chosen for more detailed consideration and development of preliminary concept plans to serve as examples of what could be achieved.”

    The Minister said project costs including earthworks, modifications to drainage, planting and survey work were estimated to be between $300,000 and $800,000 per site, with the majority of funds being required for earthworks.

    Swans need water levels of less than one metre for feeding and protection, adjacent land for roosting and preening, suitable vegetation along the shoreline for shelter and nesting, feeding habitats such as freshwater wetlands and lawns, and daily access to fresh water.

    The feasibility study concludes that, with modifications to ensure that these needs are met, Black Swans and other waterbirds should readily utilise modified sites, and although it may take time for the birds to adopt new sites, this should be allowed to occur naturally without excessive human interference.

    Dr Hames said there was significant scope for the private sector to embrace the project and participate in the development of habitat havens through sponsorship and the provision of relevant goods and services.

    The Minister said the Water and Rivers Commission was calling for expressions of interest for private sponsorship. These would close on February 9.

    Media contacts:
    Sandy Gater, Minister Hames’ office 9424 7455
    Casey Cahill, Premier Richard Court’s office 9222 9475
    Paula Wallace, Water and Rivers Commission 9278 0741