Airlie Island is a small (26 hectare) sand cay, located 35km north of Onslow in Western Australia. In common with other islands in the region, Airlie is a nesting site for seabirds and turtles, but its two primary conservation resources are the large Wedge-tailed Shearwater rookery which covers 64% of the island and an endemic skink species. Its conservation values have prompted the Western Australian State Government to declare the entire island a nature reserve set apart for the preservation of flora and fauna.

In 1987 Western Mining Corporation Pty Ltd developed the South Pepper and North Herald oilfields and part of this development included the siting of an oil terminal on Airlie Island.

It may be expected that the conservation resources of the island and the Company's requirements for land would be incompatible. However, a careful study of the local environment and the creation of a detailed plan to manage this environment resulted in an acceptable compromise. The vegetated area of Airlie Island was reduced by 3.1 hectares, or 12%, and appropriate siting and design of the facility minimized the impact on wildlife. Disciplined execution of the management plan during construction was an essential part of the overall environmental success of the project.

This case study shows that conservation and exploitation can be compatible if appropriate management strategies are developed and strictly implemented.

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