The Helena and Aurora Range Science Declaration

An open letter to the Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan,

The Western Australian Environment & Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson and

The Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Commerce and Industrial Relations; Electoral Affairs; Asian Engagement Minister Bill Johnston

We, the undersigned scientists, call upon the Government to protect the Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin) from mining and upgrade protection over the range to a Class “A” National Park.

We endorse that the EPA and other government bodies have recommended protection for this ancient, unique range of global heritage significance for over 50 years.  The natural values found in this area have been formally recognised by scientists since the 1980’s, and since then there have been repeated calls for protection, including a 2007 EPA report on the region, the 2012-2013 EPA annual report and most recently in the EPA report on the current mining proposal (2017).

The Helena Aurora Range is a significant, intact geo-heritage feature of the Banded Ironstone Formation Ranges of the Yilgarn Region of Western Australia.  These Ranges are remnants of a landscape dating back over 2.6 billion years, meaning that they are among the most ancient landforms on earth.

The Helena and Aurora Range is a refuge for both threatened flora and fauna. It boasts significant aboriginal heritage sites and is home to a unique ecological community with species found nowhere else. In summary, the biodiversity of the range that has been described to date includes:

  • 2 Declared rare endemic flora species (Tetratheca aphylla subsp. aphylla and Leucopogon spectabilis) plus 3 other endemic plant species
  • 1 Threatened fauna species,
  • 4 Conservation significant fauna species,
  • 10 BIF-dependent flora species,
  • 13 Priority plant species,
  • 152 Native fauna species
  • 350 Native plant species

After decades of science-based recommendations for the full and secure protection of the Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin), in light of the threats facing the range and excellent opportunity for joint management with Traditional Owners, the time has come for the WA government to act responsibly and protect this exceptional feature of our environment for future generations.

With so many of WA’s other outstanding banded ironstone ranges destroyed or in the process of being destroyed, it’s time to get the balance right and protect this exceptional intact biodiversity hotspot for future generations.

Yours sincerely,

The undersigned Scientists

John Bailey, Emeritus Professor, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University

Carmen Lawrence, Professor in Psychology, School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia

Stephen Hopper, Professor of Biodiversity & Conservation Biology, CENRM & School of Biological Sciences at University of Western Australia

Fiona Stanley, Professor Child Health & Epidemiology, Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia.

Hans Lambers, Professor in Plant Biology, School of Biological Science, University of Western Australia

Dr Denis Saunders AM Retired CSIRO Chief Research Scientist, Member Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists

Professor Richard J Hobbs, IAS Distinguished Fellow, School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia

Peter W G Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute

David M Watson, Professor in Ecology, Institute for Land Water and Society, and School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University

Katherine Anne Evans, Associate Professor in Geology, Curtin University

Bruce Armstrong, Adjunct Professor of Public Health, University of Western Australia

Dr. Barry Traill, Australian Director, Pew Charitable Trusts

Dr Christopher Dean, Research Scientist & Doctoral Candidate, University of Tasmania

Dr Eddie van Etten, Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University

Harry F. Recher, FRZS, AM, Senior Fellow, The Australian Museum, College St., Sydney, Adjunct Professor, Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA. Professor Emeritus, School of Natural Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA

Judit Szabo, PhD, Adjunct Researcher, Avian Conservation, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia

Andrea Gaynor, Associate Professor of Environmental History, The University of Western Australia

Angus Morrison-Saunders, Associate Professor in Environmental Assessment, Murdoch University

Dr Keren Raiter, School of Biological Sciences, University of Western Australia

Elizabeth Fox, Great Western Woodland Project Coordinator, BirdLife Australia

Megan Evans, PhD candidate, Australian National University

Dr Euan Ritchie, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, Deakin University

Associate/Professor Michael Calver, School of Veterinary and Life Science, Murdoch University

Keith Bradby, CEO of Gondwana Link Ltd, OAM

Ralph Mac Nally, Centenary Research Professor of Ecology, The University of Canberra

Adjunct Professor Mark Henryon, School of Animal Biology, University of Western Australia

Cristina Estima Ramalho, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Ecology, University of Western Australia

Shapelle McNee, Consultant in Botany and Ornithology, Birdlife Australia

Douglas Charles Blandford, Retired Consultant; Environmental Earth Sciences

Dr Vic Semeniuk, Geology and Geoheritage Researcher, V&C Semeniul Research Group

Senior Botanist Geoff Cockerton, Western Botanical

Senior Botanist Martin Henson, Western Botanical

Senior Botanist Jonathan Warden, Western Botanical

Honorary Senior Research Fellow Douglas Hilton, School of Biosciences, The University of Melbourne

Dr Kathy Meney, Director of Research & Consulting (Botany & Ecology) Syrinx Environmental

Senior Scientist Michael Brooker, CSIRO Biology (Retired)

Lesley Brooker, Historian (Exploration History) CSIRO

Allison Reid, Associate Professor, Public Health, Curtin University

Danielle Brady, Senior Lecturer of Cultural Studies/Environmental Humanities, Edith Cowan University

Hugh Finn, Lecturer in Law at Curtin University

Jenifer Jane Alford, Private Consultant in Environmental Science/Botany

Kelli McCreery, Principal Botanist at One Tree Botanical Pty Ltd

Dr Julia Mattner, Conservation biology & genetics, Consulting Botanist

Andrew McCreery, Wildlife Biologist, Ander McCreery Environmental Services

Dr Jerome Bull, Senior Botanist & Geographer.

David White, Professor of Infrastructure Geotechnics, The University of Western Australia

Mike Griffiths, Bachelor of Applied Science, Ecology & Indigeous Engagement specialist

Mark Randolph, Fugro Chair in Geotechnics, The University of Western Australia

Dr Nick Dunlop, Citizen Science Expert, The Conservation Council of WA

Dr Michalie Louise Ruoss, Senior Botanist

Dr. Elizabeth Kington, Environmental Scientist, National Malleefowl Recovery

Allan Stanley Waugh, Retired Hydrology Engineer

Stephen Wilke, Environmental Advisor, Take Care WA (Inc.)

Dr Jerome Bull, Botanist, Consultant

Dr Neville Graeme Marchant, Retired Botanist

Alex R. Chapman, Research Associate in Botany and Bioinformatics, Western Australian Herbarium

Conservationists bid to save remote ironstone mountains – The Australian, Monday 6 November 2017
Scientists and Academics add your name to the Declaration here

  • eg. Professor in Ecology
  • eg. Institute for Land Water and Society or School of Environmental Sciences


Australian Academy of Science (1964) National Parks and Nature Reserves in Western Australia. By the Western Australian Sub-Committee of the Australian Academy of Science Committee on National Parks. Edited by Standing Committee on Conservation of the Royal Society of Western Australia. Jointly published by Australian Academy of Science and National Parks Board of Western Australia.

Environmental Protection Authority (2007) Advice on areas of the highest conservation value in the proposed extensions to Mount Manning Reserve. Advice of the Environmental Protection Authority to the Minister for the Environment under Section 16 (e) of the Environmental Protection Act 1986. Bulletin 1256.

Department of Environment and Conservation (2008) Issues Paper. Northern Yilgarn (Mt Manning Range, Mt Elvire and Jaurdi) Conservation Reserves Management Plan.

Gibson N, Yates CJ and Dillon R (2010) Plant communities of the ironstone ranges of south western Australia: hotspots for plant diversity and mineral deposits. Biodiversity and Conservation 19, 3951-3962.

Johnson, David (2004) The Geology of Australia. School of Earth Sciences, James Cook University. Cambridge University Press.