UWA student helps Waroona Shire with land management and conservation strategy

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Tori LePage interned with the Shire of Waroona as part of a McCusker Centre for Citizenship program.
Camera IconTori LePage interned with the Shire of Waroona as part of a McCusker Centre for Citizenship program. Credit: Supplied

A UWA environmental science student has helped a Peel council with its conservation goals as part of an internship program.

Tori LePage completed a placement at the Shire of Waroona through the McCusker Centre for Citizenship.

Conducting her placement in the council’s planning department, Ms LePage helped with updates to the Shire’s land management strategy.

The strategy included information and guidelines for remnant bushland, alongside improvements for local fauna including the red-tailed black cockatoo.

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“Site visits where we saw cockatoos in their natural environment, and then located and categorised sites with strong habitat potential, was a highlight of my internship,” she said.

“The community will enjoy and see the direct benefits of the strategy including improved native wildlife outcomes and increased tourism and economic potential.”

Ms LePage said working with the Shire had given her an understanding of a small council and its connection to community.

“I was impressed with the council, which takes a personal approach to dealing with issues, as the staff all had good relationships with members of the local community,” she said.

“When discussing solutions, it was easier to find ways that could benefit most people as Shire staff are aware of community needs, being residents of the town.”

Shire infrastructure and development services director Karen Oborn said the internship position helped fill a gap within the council.

“Tori listed all of our land reserves, what their current and listed purposes were, any considerations of other uses and what their environmental values were, which is really important to us as there are a lot of people wanting to clear threatened ecological communities and mining companies wanting to get into the jarrah forests,” Ms Oborn said.

She said the report and GIS mapping tool Ms LePage had created would help the Shire with decision making.

“We can even compare now what native vegetation and wetlands we have left compared to pre-colonial times,” Ms Oborn said.

UWA’s McCusker Centre for Citizenship provides opportunities for the university’s students to complete 100-hour internships with not-for-profit, community and government organisations.

More than 2500 students have taken part in the program since it started in 2015.

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