Yampi Sound Training Area

Yampi Sound Training Area

Overview

In a remote corner of the west Kimberley lies a vast property that has been virtually untouched for almost 50 years. The Yampi Sound Training Area (Yampi) is an area of outstanding conservation value. Covering 568,000 hectares, including over 700 kilometres of coastline, Yampi is a hotspot for endangered and endemic wildlife.

AWC has been contracted by Defence to deliver science-based land management at Yampi. Our ground-breaking partnership with the military will deliver effective conservation for one of Australia’s great natural treasures.

Located within the traditional country of the Dambimangari people, Yampi straddles three different bioregions. Towering escarpments stand guard over long, hidden valleys decorated by pockets of rainforest. Tropical streams cascade over waterfalls and through chains of rock pools before meandering through savanna woodland until they reach the coast. Rugged sandstone and basalt ranges extend into the ocean, creating an intricate pattern of bays and inlets flanked by dense mangrove forests.

When Defence purchased this land in the 1970’s, it secured an area of outstanding ecological significance that now rivals Australia’s great national parks for the diversity and abundance of its wildlife. Yampi protects a wide range of endemic, threatened, and iconic Kimberley fauna, such as the Northern Quoll, Golden-backed Tree-rat, Monjon, Western Partridge Pigeon, Black Grasswren, Gouldian Finch and Orange Leaf-nosed Bat.

Working closely with the Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation, AWC will design and deliver feral control, fire management and a world class science program, protecting Yampi’s natural values consistent with its military use. It is the first partnership of its kind in Australia between conservation and the military, and is potentially a template for military land around the world.

Key vitals

Size/area:
568,400 hectares
Mammals:
53
Bioregion:
Northern Kimberley, Central Kimberley, Dampierland
Birds:
270
Ecosystems:
24
Reptiles:
111
Plants:
Estimated 1,000
Amphibians:
22
Threatened plants:
TBD
Threatened wildlife:
26

Wildlife

Yampi is a vital last stronghold for species like the Golden Bandicoot and the Golden-backed Tree-rat and an important refuge for threatened and endemic species such as the Monjon, the Narbalek, the Red Goshawk, the Flatback Turtle and the Gouldian Finch.

Of particular note, good populations of the endangered Northern Quoll have been found historically across Yampi’s extensive and rugged ranges. Golden-backed Tree Rats, which have disappeared from much of northern Australia including places like Kakadu – are still found on Yampi (including in some of the buildings in the modest operations base). Black Grasswrens – a Kimberley endemic and priority conservation species – occur in the deep rolling granite hills.

Threatened bat species such as the Ghost Bat and Orange Leaf-nosed Bat have roosting opportunities in the rugged ranges of Yampi, particularly near the coast; whilst the Kimberley subspecies of the Brushtail Phascogale and the Brushtail Possum (both listed as threatened in the Mammal Action Plan) have been recorded in the lowland savannas and woodlands. Flocks of the nationally-listed Western Partridge Pigeon can be seen in good numbers in the grassy lowland areas.

Click below to view the list of wildlife species at Yampi:

Mammals List  |  Birds List  |  Reptiles List  |  Amphibians List  |  Threatened List

Measures of success: Ecological Health

Melissa Bruton, Wildlife Ecologist, at Yampi with an endangered Northern Quoll
Melissa Bruton, Wildlife Ecologist, at Yampi with an endangered Northern Quoll

AWC is the only conservation organisation to measure, in a robust scientific manner, the ecological health of a network of sanctuaries. AWC field ecologists will measure the ecological health of Yampi over time. In particular, we will measure and monitor

  • The location and distribution of threatened and endemic fauna species in targeted areas of Yampi (e.g. Northern Quolls in rocky areas, Golden-backed Tree-rats in rainforest patches). 
  • A range of other ecological health indicators, including biodiversity indicators (e.g. diversity and abundance of fauna) and threat metrics (e.g. fire metrics, density of feral animals)

Field programs

Working closely with the Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation, AWC will design and deliver feral control, fire management and a world class science program, protecting Yampi’s natural values consistent with its military use. It is the first partnership of its kind in Australia between conservation and the military, and is potentially a template for military land around the world.

  • In recent years, regular and extensive late season wildfires have affected on large areas of Yampi. AWC’s land management at Yampi will be designed to improve fire regimes and protect fire-sensitive vegetation and fauna habitats.
  • Feral cattle and pigs occur on Yampi, degrading waterways and lowland vegetation areas. Donkeys and feral horses are also present. AWC will deliver feral herbivore control including shooting.
  • An extensive biodiversity monitoring program will be rolled out to track the ecological health of Yampi and inform future land management.

 

 

General description

Sandstone escarpment overlooking the Kimberley coast
Sandstone escarpment overlooking the Kimberley coast

Yampi covers 568 000 ha and is located approximately 75 km northeast of Derby in the western Kimberley, WA. The geology of Yampi includes stunning and diverse features: from rugged sandstone ranges to the north, to rolling quartzite, basalt, and granite hills and inselbergs in the centre. There is a very ancient conglomerate outcrop near the homestead, as well as an isolated sandstone mesa.

The lowland areas include an extensive network of waterways and billabongs with permanent water. These waterways – particularly the large Robinson River - feed into brackish systems, saline flats and mangroves as they reach the coast. Yampi has over 700 km of convoluted and highly tidal coastline, including a rugged range that extends south and west from the Artesian Range. The rugged northern coastline is fringed by a system of mangroves within sheltered embayments.

Yampi occurs in the 750-900mm rainfall zones, with rainfall decreasing to the south and west across the property. Rainfall is highly seasonal, with distinct wet (Nov-March) and dry (Apr-Oct) seasons. Temperatures are tropical, with the average maximum temperatures at the nearest meteorological station (Derby) ranging from 30oC in June to 38oC in November, and average minimum temperatures ranging from 15oC in July to 26oC in December.

Ecosystems and plants

Mangrove forest
Mangrove forest

Yampi contains over 1/3 of all the known Kimberley plant species, and is an area of unusual plant richness. At least 802 species of plant from 122 families have been confirmed in the limited survey effort to date. Over 1,000 plant species area expected to occur. A least two plant species are endemic to Yampi, and a third occurs mainly within the boundaries of Yampi.

Three major bioregions merge at Yampi, providing a high diversity of ecosystems in a small area. Broadly, Yampi contains six habitat categories: woodland plains, grasslands, riparian areas, rocky hills and ranges, littoral (coastal) zones, and rainforest pockets. Notably, the rocky areas of Yampi are peppered with small rainforest pockets and monsoon vine thickets in fire-protected gullies and associated with springs.

Three rare plant communities occur in Yampi: rainforests, mallee scrub-heath on an isolated mesa, and plant communities of the granite inselbergs of the Kimberley. The southern section of Yampi includes the most northern occurrence of pindan (red sand) woodlands.

Fire-protected stands of Cypress Pine provide reference sites, or benchmark values, for assessing the health of similar plant communities within the Kimberley.

Staff