Project Eden – recreating Shark Bay’s natural ecosystem
Project Eden is a bold conservation project that aims to turn back the tide of extinction and ecological destruction in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Focussed on the 1050 km2 Peron Peninsula, in the centre of the World Heritage Area, the project began back in 1991 with three key goals:
By rejuvenating the Peron Peninsula’s once vibrant ecosystem and creating a safe haven for threatened native animals the project aims to return the local ecosystem to its former glory.
Bilby - © DEC/Babs and Bert Wells
Download Project Eden’s brochure here
In 1801, when French explorers Nicholas Baudin and François Péron visited Shark Bay, 23 species of mammals were present. By 1990 fewer than half that number remained. Predation by introduced foxes and cats, habitat destruction and competition for food by stock and rabbits had driven many native animals to local extinction.
Project Eden was inspired by a number of events including Shark Bay’s World Heritage listing in 1991, the creation of Francois Peron National Park, the success of fox baiting research conducted by the then Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), and early research into fencing and predator exclusion by CSIRO at Heirrisson Prong. Project Eden was launched as CALM began to remove feral animals from the peninsula to encourage the recovery of the remaining flora and fauna. Once the ecosystem had started to rejuvenate, some lost wildlife could return to Eden.
The Feral Proof Fence
View a 360o interactive panorama of the Feral Proof Fence here.
Vital to the success of Project Eden is the reduction and (where possible) removal of feral animals, seen as the primary reason for the extinction of many local animals. The geography of Peron Peninsula, a long isthmus of land over 75km long, played a key role in making this happen. The peninsula’s very narrow neck, around 3km wide, proved to be a perfect opportunity to fence off the entire peninsula. Once the fence was in place the removal of feral animals would be facilitated as other animals were then restricted from recolonising the peninsula from adjacent areas.
Over the last 15 years the program has seen many successes and some failures. The removal of thousands of stock led to an almost immediate recovery of the native vegetation. The total or near eradication of cattle, sheep, goats and foxes on the peninsula, has resulted in dramatic changes to the local animal and plant populations. However, three species of ferals – rabbits, mice and cats remain, and although control measures such as poisoning and trapping have reduced numbers of the latter, eradication is not possible at this stage. Read more about the remove of feral animals here.
How has the vegetation recovered?
Click here to find out
The control of feral animals has lead the way for the reintroduction of native species
starting in 1997. The reintroductions to date have seen mixed success, some species becoming established and others failing. The recent purchase of Dirk Hartog Island for conservation purchases has opened the door for a major new stage in the project. This island is viewed as a potential site for removing feral cats, something that has restricted the success of the reintroductions on Peron Peninsula. Project Eden now enters a new and exciting era. Click here
to read about the future of the project.
Release of a banded hare-wallaby