New rare plant guide app to shape conservation in Pilbara

A new smartphone application will help guide the management and conservation of rare plants in WA’s Pilbara region, Environment Minister Albert Jacob says.

The Rare and Priority Plants of the Pilbara app, announced today, provides descriptions, distribution maps, images and a simple identification guide for 167 rare and little-known plant species.

It was developed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife in collaboration with Rio Tinto.

Mr Jacob said information from the app would help the State Government, industry, and community make better decisions about conservation planning.

“It gives easier access to details about rare and priority species,” he said.

“This will help botanists, conservation staff, industry environmental officers and landowners with the ongoing management of the region.

“Having this critical information and knowledge readily available at one’s fingertips is extremely useful to further support conservation and future development in the Pilbara.”

Department of Parks and Wildlife WA Herbarium curator Kevin Thiele said it was important for industry consultants and conservation officers to be able to identify those plants when working on development projects in the Pilbara.

“Before this app, getting information on some of these rare plants has been extremely difficult,” Mr Thiele said.

“You would sometimes need to go to quite obscure literature, or in some cases there simply hasn’t been any information publicly available on what these plants look like, where they grow, and what sort of habitat they occur in.

“This app for the first time has put all that information together in a single, handy resource which consultants can have with them out in the field on their device.”

He said several new plants had been discovered during work setting up the new app.

Mr Jacob said the launch paved the way for the development of future apps for other WA regions.

The free app is available on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.