Large-scale road clearing helps worsen fires, floods

Today one cannot watch the news or read a paper without seeing something about Climate Change or a catastrophic weather event somewhere in the world.  Apart from Covid, this seems to be the dominant topic of our early 21st century.  It has, however, been a topic of concern to many scientists worldwide much earlier than this and their predictions are clearly coming true.

The State of the Environment Report, released in July 2022, has documented evidence of accelerated deterioration in all areas studied, including habitat loss, species extinction, invasive species, and pollution of waterways and atmosphere from mining and industry. This was just in Australia.

In addition, we have experienced two extreme events linked to Climate Change in Australia alone. From October 2021 to January 2022, 34 people died because of bushfires, and 40 drowned because of floods.

There are many causes both natural and unnatural but there is now little doubt that the major contributor to the accelerated deterioration in Climate stability is the behaviour and actions of Humans.

Certainly at least 100-150 years ago the average person had little understanding of the likely effects of the consumption of coal, oil, gas and wood for energy supply, the polluting effects of industry and the widespread clearing of land for agriculture.

Our world has changed dramatically since then, and government, business leaders and people worldwide now have more than enough scientifically based evidence to know precisely what is required to slow or at best halt the ongoing decline.

According to the report, over 100 species of Australian animals are either extinct in the wild or have been listed as extinct. Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent, and its rate of species decline is one of the highest among developed countries. Introduced species, habitat destruction and clearing are the main causes.


3 Baudin's Black-Cockatoo sitting in a marri tree eating nuts

Baudin’s Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) has been given the conservation status of critically endangered. Photo: Melissa Adams.

It is very difficult from the ground to appreciate the level of deforestation in the world let alone in our own region, but aerial photography and satellite images have proven the extent of the loss of forest everywhere.  Not the least in our Wheatbelt region. 

Estimates are presented that 98% of Wheatbelt land has been cleared since colonisation.  The remaining 2% is narrow roadside strips, small stands left on farms and small reserves set aside for areas of species preservation. Trees alone cannot solve our climate problem, but continued clearance of land will most certainly contribute to a definite declining situation.

Those who travel Toodyay Road will appreciate the excellent improvements MRWA has made to the road west of Dryandra Road.  This has been achieved with very little clearance of vegetation and given that vehicle density increases closer to Perth this is a superb result whilst dramatically increasing the safety of travel for trucks and cars alike.

 An entirely different scenario is planned east of Dryandra Road, which will require the clearing of 56 hectares of vegetation for a major road redesign not requested. The vehicle density is less, but the result will be an over-engineered superhighway, as can already be seen east of Jingaling Brook Road, which is only a fraction of what is planned to be cleared (see Main Roads WA Animation).

From Dryandra Road to Salt Valley Road, picture what we see now at Jingaling Brook but magnified: hectares of bush removed, trenches dug through hills, enormous excavations, and more overtaking lanes than the community requested (or need).  

MRWA activity state wide 2017 2018 2019
Vegetation cleared (ha) 246 535 663
Revegetation (ha ) 206 139 58
Offsets claimed (ha) 83 6 15

Some see the loss of 56 hectares of vegetation as of no significance in the global picture, but our global situation is now so precarious that any loss, particularly of mature trees which cannot be replaced overnight by roadside plantings is unacceptable. And this is not the only area MRWA plans to clear throughout this state’s roadworks and based on recent years’ figures (see table above), the offsets do not match the amount of clearing done.

If you do not want to see this happening, sign our petition, or the hard copy version available at one of our stalls at the Sunday Markets, Ag Show and IGA. You can also send a letter of concern to Council, State and Federal environment Ministers and cc. MRWA.

If you would like to join SASTR, email us at and please consider planting as many local tree species as your property will safely accommodate!

Toodyay Grevillea (Grevillea candolleana)

Toodyay Grevillea (Grevillea candolleana ) is listed aspriority two” conservation status. Photo: Melissa Adams.

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