Key Threats

There are many key threats that the natural resources of the South West NRM Region face. There are also many challenges in managing these natural resources effectively.

More information on some of the key threats is available within this website and links to other sources of information are provided within these pages.

Threats and challenges to our natural resources and to the management practices change over time. We welcome your feedback on any of the information here within in order to provide the best information available.

Priority threats have been identified by Theme and are:

Terrestrial Biodiversity

Primary threats:

  • Climate change and associated extreme weather events;
  • Dieback (Phytophthora spp);
  • Decreasing rainfall (drought);
  • Fire (including inappropriate fire management regimes);
  • Environmental weeds (Category A), all locally-occurring “Weeds of National Significance” and introduced animals (cats, European fox, rabbits);
  • Problem species (introduced and native – European Honey Bee, Kookaburra, Galahs, Corellas);
  • Habitat fragmentation and/or isolation;
  • Salinity;
  • Land clearing and other unsustainable farming practices;
  • Removing buffer and/or riparian vegetation;
  • Grazing by stock; and
  • Population increase / urban development.

Secondary threats include other diseases such as Armillaria and Marri canker; other problem species (pigs, deer and kangaroos); contamination through chemicals/pesticides; water extraction and/or capture; recreational pressures; declining soil health; loss of local landcare capabilities; and physical removal of plants and/or animals.

Aquatic Biodiversity

Primary threats:

  • Climate change and associated extreme weather events, e.g. reduced rainfall causing drying out of refuges such as permanent pools;
  • introduction of non-native species, e.g. yabbies and Gambusia;
  • ecosystem fragmentation;
  • loss of habitat required for different stages of species’ life cycles;
  • eutrophication;
  • groundwater abstraction;
  • inappropriate development on acid sulphate soils;
  • movement of species, e.g. marron from one catchment to another;
  • pollution from point sources;
  • inappropriate land use planning;
  • salinity; and
  • coastal development (including the development of oil and gas fields and other mining activities).

Secondary threats include intensive agriculture; poor land management practices; water abstraction; water development; aquaculture and boating facilities; and recreational and commercial fishing.

Water Resources

Primary threats:

  • Climate change;
  • Changes to hydrology and environmental flows through excessive damming and extraction;
  • Erosion;
  • Sedimentation;
  • Eutrophication;
  • Salinity;
  • Acid sulphate soils;
  • Pollution from point sources (abattoirs, sewerage treatment plants etc.);
  • Ecosystem fragmentation; and
  • Land development (residential, rural residential, intensive agriculture, broad acre farming, pastoral, aquaculture and boating facilities).

Secondary threats include feral animals and weed infestations; recreational and commercial fishing; industry; industrial discharge; water abstraction; other recreational pressures; and agricultural drainage (e.g. coastal plain and saline land drainage).

Land Resources

Primary threats:

Secondary threats include Phosphorus lock-up; Loss of soil microbiology; and Water repellent soils.

Coasts and the marine environment

Primary threats:

  • Climate change;
  • Eutrophication caused by nutrient enrichment from range of sources, e.g. outflows from irrigation channels and sewerage;
  • Ocean acidification;
  • Changes in hydrology (either due to climate change or man-made);
  • Governance (lack of strategic collaborative approach to issues by stakeholders such as that offered by the “Integrated Coastal Zone Management” approach);
  • Increased population density;
  • Pollution of sheltered beaches;
  • Sea change population issues;
  • Storm surge and shore stabilisation;
  • Overfishing;
  • Tourism; and
  • Uncontrolled public access.

Secondary threats include: Inappropriate management of acid sulphate soils; conflict between recreational & commercial uses of near-shore waters; increasing peri urban population; introduced fish species; reduced water flow into estuaries; reduction of river flows; seaweed accumulation; shore stabilisation problems; water quality; recreational fishing; salt water intrusion of coastal wetlands; and sand mining.

Communities and culture

Primary threats:

  • Loss or degradation of Aboriginal knowledge and heritage;
  • Loss or degradation of natural and historic heritage;
  • Loss of landholder knowledge through rural decline;
  • Loss of community ownership of NRM issues and the solutions available
  • Declining terms of trade impacting on the economic health of country areas resulting in rural decline and loss of disposable income for use in NRM;
  • Population decline through replacement of labour by technology; and
  • Inadequate resourcing at all levels.


Image by Tim Swallow.