When Bush Heritage took over a sheep station in Western Australia's wheatbelt a decade ago it was covered in weeds and teeming with feral goats, cats and foxes.
But a lot of hard work to eradicate the pests and let the natural flora and fauna return has resulted in an environmental oasis.
Charles Darwin Reserve is tucked away in the northern edge of the Western Australian wheatbelt, about 350 kilometres north-east of Perth.
Although the 60,000 hectare reserve only accounts for one per cent of the entire Avon-Wheatbelt Merriden sub-region, it protects 45 to 61 per cent of the sub-region's birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs, and 35 per cent of the sub-region’s plants.
It's something Dr Matt Appleby, an ecologist with Bush Heritage, is very proud of.
“We’re seeing the numbers and the spread of the species is increasing over time, species that might not have been present here as standing plants have sprung back up and there’s no sheep or goats or rabbits nibbling them down and reducing their numbers.
“So they’re given a really good chance to get going, re-set the seed bank and really thrive in this sort of area.”
Bush Heritage Australia has reserves all over the country but there are plants in this particular patch that are not found in any other part of the world.
Despite the dry, harsh conditions the reserve has three times the plant diversity of Australia's tropical rainforests.
From the undulating sandplains to ancient eucalyptus woodlands, from the dense mulga scrub and shimmering salt lakes - the reserve's unusual positioning has resulted in a 'melting pot' of species.
Luke Bayley is in charge of land management at Charles Darwin Reserve, which involves anything from feral animal control, fire management obligations and maintaining infrastructure.
“We’re in an exciting part of the landscape, basically we’re the northern wheatbelt meets the southern Murchison, so there’s an amazing mix of south west botanical plants hitting the semi-arid scrublands and that what makes this block special.
The reserve escaped WA’s ‘dose it or lose it’ land-clearing policy of the 1960’s which saw 93 per cent of the native vegetation in the Avon Wheatbelt bioregion cleared for agriculture.
“This is a great example of what the country would’ve looked like before it was developed for farming,” Mr Bayley said.
“There’s a lot of similar work to people that would own a pastoral property except we’re farming biodiversity, not sheep or beef.”