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Hundreds of hectares of new habitat created in Gondwana Link

Our team has just spent a busy Autumn and Winter in the biodiversity hotspot of South West Australia. Here’s a report back on the action from our lead planner and scientist over there, Barry Heydenrych.

Even after being involved in numerous field-based projects in South West Australia over the past 15 years, I still find it incredibly exciting to see the soil being cultivated and to watch thousands of native seeds or seedlings going back in to help ‘stitch’ back the landscapes of Gondwana Link.

Having the opportunity to assist in the establishment of over 400 hectares of new habitat across the fragmented central zone of Gondwana Link has been a rewarding experience, with a variety of habitats established that will benefit a range of fauna, including the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo.

All of this work has been made possible by funding from the Commonwealth Government’s Biodiversity Fund, invested over seven different properties.

Half of the planting has been on our own Peniup property, including biodiverse sandalwood plantations and the establishment of 70,000 native seedlings. As part of an arrangement with South Coast NRM we’ve carried out habitat restoration at our Nowanup and Yarrabee sites.

The project has required a significant amount of planning. Under the expert guidance of Dr Geoff Woodall, we’ve been applying new techniques through innovation to our direct seeding process to improve efficiencies and mitigate risks. By ensuring the correct tillage of the soil, using precision placement of seed, at the right time of year, with the correct fertilizers, seed mixes and weed control, we hope to give the seed the best chance of survival as possible.

We have had reasonable spring rains and are hoping to have some summer rain to see the emerging plants through till next year. The weather is still one key factor that cannot be controlled!

Barry Heydenrych, Lead Scientist and Planner South Western Australia

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Direct seedingDirect seeding

And for those of you in the practical conservation business, like Barry and his colleagues, here are a few key technical details from the project:

  • Post sowing weed control has recently been implemented, and seed collecting is well underway for next year’s seedlings and direct seeding projects, with the aim that the roll-out of new habitat can continue across the Gondwana Link pathway.
  • Most of the planting has been done using CommVeg Series II ™ direct seeding machines.
  • Seedlings, sandalwood nuts and spot sown seed were planted by our Environmental Services Unit using ‘potti putki’ tree planters.
  • Specific habitat nodes rich in proteaceous species are being created as habitat for a range of fauna – including the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo – and use is being made of seedlings for some key species in this regard.
Grevillea tetragonolobaGrevillea tetragonoloba

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