Large-scale biodiversity and carbon project in WA redefines restoration

Greening Australia has partnered with WA-based company Woodside to complete a landmark project to plant a biodiverse mix of three million native trees and plants on former farmland near Pingrup in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, in what is one of Australia’s largest-ever single season plantings.

The project, completed in just three months on the Cowcher property within Western Australia’s Gondwana Link, has replanted over 1,500 hectares of previously cleared land as part of the broader Woodside Native Reforestation Project. The planting will create and link vital habitat, restoring landscape connectivity within a global biodiversity hotspot whilst sequestering carbon at a significant scale. More than 80 native plant species have been incorporated into the restoration work so far.

Greening Australia Science and Planning Manager Dr Blair Parsons says, “this project is our largest single season planting effort to date and redefines what is possible with large-scale biodiverse restoration and carbon offsetting programs. We are combining science and innovation to restore Australian landscapes at scale and at an accelerated pace, delivering greater benefits to the environment and to people whilst creating investable programs to generate carbon offsets.

“This capacity to generate carbon credits while restoring native ecosystems represents a genuine opportunity to engage funding from the private sector – a crucial element for enabling large-scale restoration to achieve Greening Australia’s ambitious goal of planting 500 million native trees and shrubs to absorb 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030.”

This project is part of Greening Australia and Woodside’s partnership to co-create large-scale, native tree planting projects. The partnership aims to combine Greening Australia’s 38 years of experience in landscape restoration with Woodside’s capacity and knowledge in developing projects to achieve establishment of biodiverse carbon at scale.

The Cowcher property was selected to maximise benefits for landscape connectivity and habitat creation as part of the Gondwana Link. The site was previously cleared for farming in the late 1960s but once cleared, its ancient, infertile soils rendered it vulnerable to chronic degradation from wind erosion and dryland salinity. The completed planting will reverse this degradation to create a thriving landscape.

The Malleefowl

The once marginal agricultural land’s proximity to key areas of remnant habitat and conservation estate make it ideal for restoring critical habitat for threatened fauna including the Malleefowl, the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, and the Black-gloved Wallaby.

Greening Australia and Woodside worked in close partnership with Noongar communities, scientists, local contractors, and the broader community to develop a sophisticated restoration plan and complete the on-ground planting.

“Fundamental to this work has been the knowledge and expertise of the community for all aspects of the project from the planning to delivery. Embedding local knowledge of the land demonstrates the critical need for collaboration when working to produce outcomes for the community and nature,”
Dr Blair Parsons, Greening Australia Science and Planning Manager

The project drew upon research and citizen science from CSIRO and the Malleefowl Preservation Group to target priority locations and habitat preferences for the species; and local farmer and rehabilitation pioneer Kingsley Vaux who, along with his team and the Badgebup Aboriginal Corporation, were instrumental in replanting the land.

Initial monitoring has identified areas of good germination and establishment, and areas where further action may be warranted. Greening Australia will continue to monitor and manage the project site to ensure the planting continues to develop as planned.

Greening Australia welcomes offers of partnership and support from solution-focused individuals, businesses and governments that share our vision for a low-carbon planet, have a demonstrable commitment to addressing and acting on critical environmental issues, and are ready to embrace new ways of working to create a sustainable future. If you’d like to talk to us about how we could work together, please contact us!