Community & The Environment
Wilpena Pound Resort is powered by the largest off-grid solar electricity system in Australia.
Owned and operated by AGL Energy, the $2.5 million system delivers reliable, high quality power 24-hours a day while also offering quiet, efficient and environmentally-sound power supply which is sensitive to the natural surrounds for which Wilpena is world renowned.
The hybrid power station combines multiple generation sources - 100kW solar cells convert sunlight into electrical energy, 400kW of battery storage, an inverter and three diesel generators totaling 440kW. It is controlled by a high-tech computer system.
Annually this solar component of the power station provides up to 40% of Wilpena Pound Resort’s power. During the daytime, with good sunshine, the solar cells will meet the resort’s demand. For cloudy periods, the batteries or diesel generators or both can be used to supplement the solar power.
At night, the most efficient diesel generator combination is switched on to meet the load. Also at this time, any excess solar energy stored in the batteries is used to offset the diesel consumption.
The automatic system offers unattended operation and it is remotely monitored and controlled via a modern-link. The Wilpena Solar Power Station represents the state-of-the-art in remote power technologies.
Wilpena Pound is one of South Australia’s best known landforms so it is appropriate - visually and environmentally - to use renewable energy to power the resort. By installing a solar system, the natural environment is not spoiled with power lines nor by the excavation work that would have been required to extend the grid.
Flinders Ranges National Park
Reserve Type: National Park (to protect values of national significance)
Area: 94,908 hectares
Acquired: Wilpena Pound as a Forest Reserve in 1921 and a later a National Pleasure Resort in 1945, Oraparinna Station in 1970 as Oraparinna National Park, then Wilpena Station in 1988 to form Flinders Ranges National Park.
Park In Brief
Adnyamathanha people have lived in the Flinders Ranges for tens of thousands of years and the region remains of enormous significance today in contemporary Adnyamathanha society.
European occupation of the Flinders Ranges in the mid-nineteenth century brought widespread environmental modifications. Despite these changes, the Park supports examples of natural and semi-arid ecosystems, and includes many plants and animals of conservation significance. The most notable of these is probably the yellow-footed rock wallaby which occurs in rocky gorges within the Park.
The Flinders Ranges National Park encompasses some of the most spectacular scenery in South Australia, and has been made famous by the paintings of Sir Hans Heysen. The Park is world renowned for its geological history, including impressive fossil remains.
Nothing stands alone in nature. Every plant, animal, insect and soil microbe, living or dead, interacts with the ecosystem in which it is a part. Natural events like drought, floods and wildfire test the resilience of species and ecosystems. Most are adapted to survive extreme conditions in the short term. Rare catastrophic events like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and comet impacts, or climate change over time, may alter conditions for life locally or globally. But change is usually slow, measured in units of geological time rather than human lifetimes. However, human-induced changes during the last 150 years have seriously impacted upon ecosystems of the Flinders Ranges. Some effects are irreversible, like species extinctions. The rabbit-eared Bandicoot, or Wara lives only in memory, as catalogued museum skin, or as a creation spirit of the Adnyamathanha Dreaming. But there is scope for some recovery.
Bounceback Flinders Ranges is an ambitious ecological recovery program that is restoring ecosystem health in the Flinders Ranges.
Ecological Health/Biological Wealth
In nature, variety is all-important. Variety or biodiversity ensures strong healthy communities of living things. As natural areas shrink in the wake of development and exploitation, variety diminishes. Species are lost. Nature conservation has been driven by ‘rescue packages’ for threatened species like pandas, condors, and bilbies. Conservation has been largely species focused. Management for biodiversity shifts the spotlight from individual species to landscape-scale ecosystem health. The conservation of threatened species, or species rescue, becomes an integral part of management for biodiversity. BOUNCEBACK FLINDERS RANGES is a landscape-scale conservation management program which aims to restore healthy, resilient, and diverse natural eco-systems, and, in the process, rescue threatened species.
Why are the flinders important?
The Flinders Ranges penetrate into the arid heart of Australia. Moist mountain habitats extend the range of some plants and animal species found in eastern and southern Australia. Temperate and arid species occur in close association. Relic, threatened and endemic species, those that are found only in the Flinders Ranges, are of particular interest to conservation managers. Many species of conservation significance are the invisible tenants of the Flinders Ranges and are unlikely to be seen by visitors.
- The Ranges are a stronghold of the nationally vulnerable Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby with about 70% of remaining wild populations within Australia found in the Olary and Flinders Ranges
- Five reptile species and thirty-four bird species have state conservation significance, whilst seventy bird species are regionally significant. Notable species include the red-barred dragon, short-tailed grass wren, and the blue-winged parrot.
- Ten of the twenty-four surviving native mammal species have special conservation status. On a recent biological survey several species previously unknown within the Flinders Ranges were recorded, including the Little Long-tailed Dunnart, Common Dunnart, Desert Mouse, and Little Forest Bat.
- Two hundred and twenty-one native plant species have some level of conservation significance at national, state or regional level.
The semi-arid environment of the Flinders Ranges is particularly fragile. Much of the region including the Flinders and Gammon Ranges National Parks, was taken up for pastoral production in the mid to late 1800’s. Stocking rates were among the highest recorded for Australia during the early pastoral years. Many small to medium sized mammals and some birds and reptiles had all but disappeared from the region by 1900. The extent of local extinctions was realized almost a century later. The persistence of European foxes, rabbits, feral cats, goats and donkeys has contributed to the further degradation of ecosystems.
The impact of european settlement on biodiversity in the flinders ranges:
- Unsustainable grazing pressure led to the loss of some plant communities and dramatic shrinking of others Indigenous land use and associated economies based upon conservative harvest were destroyed during the first fifty years of settlement
- 66% of local mammals became extinct within fifty years of European settlement. The greatest impact was borne by small to medium sized mammals weighing between 50g to 5kg
- Feral animals were introduced in the nineteenth century but their greatest impacts have been felt during the last century. Rabbit plagues were first recorded in the 1890’s. Foxes had arrived by the early 1900’s. Feral cats probably preceded settlement. Goats accompanied exploration parties in the 1840’s and were probably held in check by Dingoes until the 1900’s.
- The dingo, the only high order predator, was poisoned, shot and ultimately excluded with the erection of the dog fence in 1912
- Loss of plant cover exposed fragile soils to the elements resulting in widespread soil erosion
- Some introduced plant species have out-competed natives and now dominate whole land systems
- Artificial watering points such as dams and stock troughs helped to sustain unnaturally high populations of large native animals such as kangaroos and euros
- Bushfire frequency has diminished, threatening the long term survival of fire-dependent species
- A substantial percentage of native plant and animal species have current conservation significance ratings which confirms that threatening processes continue
- Hunted for scalps and furs, the once abundant Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby was identified as needing protection in 1919
Bounceback flinders ranges ecological restoration intiatives:
- Removal of feral goats at a regional level in collaboration with other land owners
- Destruction of rabbit warren systems in the Flinders and Gammon Ranges National Parks
- Removal of foxes from the Flinders and Gammon Ranges National Parks and adjacent buffer
- Strategic control of feral cats
- Management of total grazing pressure including a sustainable kangaroo population
- Control of key pest plant species including bio-control trials for Horehound and Salvation Jane
- Establishment of seed production areas
- Revegetation of key plant species using a number of techniques including direct seeding into ripped warrens
- Trial re-introductions of locally extinct mammals
- Rigorous monitoring programs
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