Pelicans perched on rocks
Project

Outback to Oceans Australia

Sections

Western Australia
Sattler's Creek
The Pew Charitable Trusts

Find out more about protection of the Western Australia Outback and significant areas of high natural benefit such as the Kimberley and Southwest marine regions.

The Kimberley

Western Australia’s Kimberley region is an area of spectacular natural beauty harboring unique landscapes and wildlife, along with one of the world’s last unspoilt coastlines. Scientific studies have shown it is one of the most pristine marine areas on Earth. It is also home to an Aboriginal culture that is tens of thousands of years old.

Stretching across an area nearly twice the size of Victoria, the Kimberley is comparable in size, health and uniqueness to the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest. British naturalist David Attenborough described the area’s Horizontal Falls as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.”

Other standout features:

  • The Kimberley’s coastal waters are a ‘marine superhighway’ for an estimated 30,000 humpback whales—the world’s largest population—making their way to warm tropical waters each year to breed. These waters also provide critical habitats for the newly discovered snubfin dolphin and six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles.
  • It is home to 72 native mammal species, 295 bird species, 178 reptile species and 51 amphibian species.
  • The northern Kimberley is the only region in Western Australia—and one of the few in the entire country—where extinctions of mammal species have not been recorded.

Our Goals

With few existing protections, the Kimberley is at risk. Increasing pressure to open a new mining frontier along with the impacts of fires, invasive weeds and feral animals threaten to tip the balance. Unless action is taken, these pressures will continue to intensify and lead to irreversible and widespread environmental degradation, with both social and economic costs.

Pew is working with government, conservation, fishing, tourism and Indigenous groups to secure long-term protection for the Kimberley’s unique marine life and its rugged natural landscapes through the creation of the Great Kimberley Marine Park and adjacent protected areas on land.

We are also working with the Kimberley Land Council and Traditional Owners to secure an increase in the number of rangers and Indigenous Protected Areas. The Indigenous Ranger and protected area program are a great success story that is recognised around the world.

We are working with conservation organisations to create comprehensive conservation and development plans for the Kimberley region. Through our Like Nowhere Else effort, we collaborate with leading international and Australian conservation organisations for the long-term protection of the Kimberley's land and marine environments.  

Outback Western Australia

Covering almost half of Western Australia, the Outback is among a handful of intact natural regions remaining on the planet. Outback WA is a vast, interconnected landscape that stretches from the tropical savanna of the Kimberley through the Pilbara, Gascoyne, Goldfields and Great Western Woodlands, the largest remaining temperate woodland in the world.

The animal and plant life of Outback WA is extraordinarily diverse. Across the landscape thrives a rich tapestry of native species, often in challenging conditions. An astonishing variety of birds—550 species—has been documented here, including honeyeaters, thornbills, whistlebirds and majestic Carnaby’s black cockatoos. Endangered animals such as the northern quoll inhabit the rocky gorges of the Kimberley, and lizards are prolific in the harsh conditions of the desert regions. Throughout the Outback, spectacular wildflowers bloom from July to November. In 2019, Pew and partners secured a commitment to protect 50,000 square kilometres of land and sea in Western Australia—including the largest single commitment ever made to national parks on land in Australia.

Our Goals

Many parts of Outback WA now have fewer people than at any time in the past 50,000 years. Scientists have determined that this has led to local extinctions of native species, such as the bilby, and also to the uncontrolled spread of destructive fires, feral animals and weeds.

To conserve the Outback’s natural heritage, more people—not fewer—are needed to live on and actively manage the country. Today’s rich diversity of life, which has been nurtured for tens of thousands of years, requires long-term protection and hands-on management to ensure its survival. A historic opportunity exists to create a modern Outback that sustains its people and values its nature.

Pew is working with Indigenous groups, pastoralists, and science and conservation groups to create greater options for land managers to invest in sustainable industries that encourage people to remain on the land, actively caring for it and keeping it healthy.