If award-winning plant biologist Hans Lambers has his way, Western Australia's unique and diverse South West will soon be added to UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Professor Lambers, from The University of Western Australia's School of Plant Biology, is hoping his new book Plant Life on the Sandplains in Southwest Australia will pave the way for the area to be World Heritage-listed.
Beautifully illustrated by WA's leading botanical artist, Philippa Nikulinsky, the book replaces Emeritus Professor John Pate's earlier publication, Kwongan: Plant Life of the Sandplains.
Professor Lambers, one of the world's most highly cited plant scientists, said WA's South West was already recognised as one of the world's biodiversity hotspots and deserved to be protected and celebrated.
Kwongan (or kwongkan) is a Noongar word for sand, but botanists now use the name for low vegetation that occurs over large areas of sand-plain in WA's South West.
"Kwongan health rainfall is low and soil very infertile but it contains a rich diversity of flora which supports a web of life that includes many species of birds and animals," Professor Lambers said.
"WA's region is similar to the sandplains of South Africa and Brazil where I have worked on collaborative research projects.
"The environments function in the same way but support different plant species and families. Brazil locations have World Heritage listing and I see proud signs to that effect in every
national park. I see what it does for the people of the region and the tourist industry and I am working towards achieving the same result for our South West."
Professor Lambers said a World Heritage listing would not threaten mining or agriculture as most mining operations were not carried out in the sandplains. Those that did were supportive of the bid to have the area listed.
"It can only be a good thing for the State because it will put WA on the map and make it more attractive for eco-tourism, without the State Government needing to spend any money," he said.
If successful, the process of World Heritage listing was expected to take about two years, Professor Lambers said. He is also Patron of The Kwongan Foundation, set up in 2006 to promote better understanding, management and utilisation of WA's unique native biological resources. The Kwongan Foundation also has a Facebook page.
Professor Hans Lambers (UWA School of Plant Biology) (+61 8) 6488 7381
David Stacey (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 7977 /(+61 4) 32 637 716