600 acres of highly degraded land in a low rainfall semi-arid region of Western Australia.
To develop innovative techniques and technologies that would enable degraded land to be recovered, the spread of deserts reversed and rainfall enhanced.
Much of Western Australia is classified as ‘arid’ or ‘semi-arid’ (100mm - 400mm/annum rainfall zone) and has soils that are among the most impoverished on the planet. We all recognise that trees need moisture and nutrients to grow, yet remarkably, trees with outstanding physical qualities that endear them with considerable value, grow here naturally under these challenging conditions. The challenge with this forestry project was to emulate Nature.
Due to a simple error-of-judgement by early settlers, the native trees were thought to be too slow-growing for commercial forestry projects, and that stigma has never been questioned. What was not recognised was that the native trees have evolved so they can grow under particularly hostile conditions. In any 12-month period, deciduous trees in the early settlers' homelands, experience just one period of ‘summer growth’ and one of ‘winter dormancy’, resulting in the production of one growth ring per year.
By contrast, trees that have evolved in arid regions, go in and out of partial dormancy, many times a year in response to moisture availability, producing a misleadingly high number of growth rings. Some trees have been observed to produce well in excess of 10 growth rings per year, this piece of wood was cut from a 3-year-old tree, at a height it would have reached after one year, so these 40 rings were produced over a two year period.
Innovative forestry methods have been developed to enable trees to be established successfully and economically in this hostile environment. By implementing some very simple and logical techniques, this can now be achieved consistently.
Salinity came about as a result of clearing the deep-rooted endemic trees that previous retained the water table at ‘a safe depth below the surface’. Once the water tables rise to within about one metre of ground level, heat and low humidity draw the moisture to the surface where the water content evaporates away, leaving the salt on the surface and concentrating the salinity of the ground water. As seen here, the trees die and so are no longer pumping water into the atmosphere - exacerbating the problem allowing the water table in many instances to rise to ground level and above.
Actions & Results:
- 2009: United Nations Association of Australia finalist in the category ‘Meeting the Greenhouse Challenge’
- 2011: United Nations Association of Australia finalist in the 'Individual Award' category
Due to the severe degradation and salinity on the property, as many areas were impossible to revegetate initially, the trees have now well established, the areas surrounding them have also recovered, enabling them to be revegetated in following years.
Project Field Partner:
Auria Forestry Project
Size of Area Involved:
242Ha (600 acres) of highly degraded land, at the neck and outflow of a 46,000 Ha catchment within the Central Wheatbelt of Western Australia, serving several growing communities.
Our partner has chosen predominantly endemic trees that enhance the greatest overall benefit to this region. This includes various varieties of trees, including: eucalypts, acacias, callistermons, grevilleas, casuarinas, melaleucas and hakeas. These tree species are selected specifically to be appropriate for the multiple different soil types encountered across this unique landscape.
Lord of the Trees is committing to support the planting of 100,000 more trees in this area.