Fast Growth’s Environmental Impact

I READ with interest Elisa Osborne’s Weekender letter on the plight of the black cockatoos in Wanneroo and surrounding areas.

I have lived in Wanneroo for 50 years and in the 1960s there were certainly thousands of birds feeding on young pine cones planted by the then Forestry Department, throughout the Wanneroo, Yanchep, Pinjar And Gnangara areas on vacant crown land.

This was also government policy in the South-West of the State where conditions were perhaps more suitable.

What there was not a lot of were people.

The population of the shire in 1966, north of Beach Road (shire boundary) from West Coast Highway, Marmion east to Balga was 4000 and most of those were in Marmion/Sorrento. From the 1970s onwards, hundreds of thousands of new residents came to WA and they wanted somewhere to live.

A large majority of them discovered Wanneroo and thought they had found paradise.

“Environmental impact” as we now know it was not a consideration in those days, as the rush was on to provide homes.

The first casualty was the water table. All these people shower, cook and flush a toilet at least once a day, not to mention watering their lawns and gardens.

Those new pine plantations became established as the trees’ tap roots sank into the water table.

Meanwhile in Osborne Park, Balcatta, Innaloo and so forth, traditional market gardening areas supplying the Perth Markets were being rezoned urban/industrial and the growers were moving to Wanneroo, placing further demands on the ground water.

The 1970s also saw the establishment of water bores to provide a domestic supply to all the new residents.

Another new concept around that time was turf farms. How many residents bought roll-on turf?

It is an unfortunate fact that early residents into new areas, once established and realising the benefits and effects they have on the environment, then wish to preserve what they have at the expense of future generations, often blaming planners and land developers for creating the problem.

If none of us lived here, I dare say there would not be a problem for the birds (who probably were not here in great numbers until the pines were planted).

GRAHAM ALLEN, Mariginiup.