The Scott River Ironstone community is one of three threatened plant communities on massive ironstone in south-west Western Australia. It is characterised by shallow soil and highly variable floristic composition, believed to be heavily influenced by soil depth, iron content and level of seasonal inundation.

The Scott River Ironstone community is restricted to the Scott River Plain, an area extending east of Augusta and the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge. The community occurs within a largely cleared, agricultural landscape, with 18% of the community’s original extent remaining (Gibson et al. 2000).The winter wet heath and shrublands of Scott River ironstone are variously dominated by Moonah (Melaleuca preissiana), the shrubs Hakea tuberculata and Kunzea micrantha and Grey honey myrtle (Melaleuca incana subsp. Gingilup) in areas of seasonal waterlogging, while the understorey is generally dominated by the sedge Loxocarya magna. All occurrences, except the long inundated wetlands and dense thickets, have very diverse annuals and herbs including Stylidium (trigger plants), Centrolepis, Schoenus (Bog rush) and Aphelia species.

THREATS

Land clearing has historically been the greatest threat to this community, reducing distribution by over 80%. More recently the threat of exposing acid sulphate soils has become a concern. Ironstone soils naturally contain iron sulphides which when exposed through extraction, drainage and dewatering activities can oxidise producing sulphuric acid, metals and precipitates.

Mineral exploration and extraction leases exist over most of the Scott River ironstone community occurrences, increasing the likelihood of excavation, drainage or dewatering in areas where these soils are present. This poses a significant risk to the community.

“Traveling to and photographing the Scott River Ironstones was a remote, yet a familiar journey. Spending my childhood camping in the region, I took the opportunity to revisit the location with the company of my father. Over three days I captured the soft spring light at dawn and dusk to compliment the vibrant surroundings.”
Tim Swallow – Photographer