Gathering yesterday evening at Government House, Perth, the newly created WA Parks Foundation announced members of its first Board, led by the governor of Western Australia, Kerry Sanderson.

The meeting was attended by members of the community, including some high-profile advocates, to help commemorate the new organisation, which aims to involve those who enjoy and take pride in WA’s natural environment in order to work towards protection and preservation into the future.

Sanderson said that, while WA had many effective ‘friends of’ groups, none had the scope of the WA Parks Foundation.

“The WA Parks Foundation brings together friends of national parks and other reserves to provide a community voice to promote the benefits of spending time in parks, to raise money for conservation and visitation projects and programs that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, to recruit volunteers and to facilitate collaborations,” she said.

“Our vision is for WA Parks to be increasingly loved and visited and the plants, animals, landscapes and cultural values they embody to be protected and a source of pride for all Western Australians.”

Another inaugural board member and chairperson of the Bibbulmun Track Foundation, Mike Wood told Wild that the creation of WA Parks Foundation means a lot for conservation, but also recreation, as it relates to the maintenance of tracks and trails.

“As an example, the Bibbulmun goes through 22 different parks and conservation zones,” he said. “We want to find ways to help people gain access to the parks as it also means gaining access to the trails.”

“That’s important because we’re increasingly finding extended nature walks are critical not just for physical health, but also for the mental health benefits. So the more people that get out into the wild, the more they’ll be appreciate it.”

When asked if the formation of the new group could help in situations like the fires that devastated large parts of WA in late January last year, Wood pointed to the significant challenge of recovery and the replacement of key facilities.

“Having a foundation devoted to the community support of parks and their importance would certainly make our job easier in those situations. Groups like these help amplify our voice, allowing us to react more quickly and in a more positive way when tragedy does occur – and these benefits can now apply to all parks and reserves in WA.”