Ten years of the Womad Forest

Greening Australia and WOMADelaide celebrate ten years in and we’re only just beginning!

This year, Greening Australia and Arts Projects Australia celebrate ten years of an ongoing partnership that has seen $2 from every ticket to the WOMADelaide event, donated to establish the Womad Forest.

So far, the partnership has achieved an incredible 70,000 trees planted. Over the 100 year lifecycle of the forest, this will offset more than the 15,040 tonnes of carbon emissions generated by WOMADelaide festivals from 2006 – 2015. 

In addition to large trees, a range of native shrubs, grasses and understory plants have flourished and a diverse natural bushland is growing steadily. At ten years, the Womad Forest has also reached a vital point.

The Womad Forest sits on a priority area for revegetation, an ancient Woorinen sand dune system. 

The 65 hectare parcel also sits between two significant conservation areas, the Ferries-McDonald Conservation Park and the Bremer River and will provide vital connecting habitat for a variety of native animals, including the threatened Hooded Robin and Diamond Firetail.

Biodiversity values within the Womad Forest area have improved dramatically since it was established.

Two bird counts have been conducted across the site by landholders, staff, biodiversity volunteers and adjacent farmers. In 2008, 17 species of bird were recorded. In 2014, 70 species of bird were recorded including the threatened native Hooded Robin and Diamond Firetail.

Greening Australia’s Director of Conservation Adelaide Stuart Collard commented, “We need to recreate and restore more habitat for threatened fauna, especially woodland birds. The Womad forest is a tiny fraction of what is required to ensure the long-term survival of our iconic native animals and landscapes.”

The timeline for this partnership can be viewed as a ‘lifelong’ relationship, as the reforestation will be enjoyed for well over a hundred years to come. Below is a very rough guide of how the joint project will benefit the environment in the future:

Year 1: Grazing pressure is reduced on the site allowing the native seed bank to germinate and grazed native plants to grow to their full potential. Soil dwelling fauna such as worms, spiders and ants increase with reduced grazing and soil disturbance. Direct seeding and hand planting of germinated seedlings are initially established.

Years 2 – 5: Seedlings dramatically increase in size, out-competing weed species and increasing fauna shelter. Revegetation begins to flower and set seed, attracting insects and birds. The increase in grass height following grazing removal allows grassland birds such as Quails to nest on site and allows reptiles sheltered passage through the site.                                                                                    

Years 6-10: Short-lived species such as Wattles complete their life cycle and begin to die, adding fallen timber and leaf litter which is important habitat for many reptiles and insects. The increase in reptiles and insects allows for a great diversity of birds which rely on these animals as their food source. Termites feeding on dead wood allow echidnas to colonise the site.                                                                                     

Years 10 – 30: Second generation seedlings begin to emerge between planted rows and the tree canopy begins to cover the entire site. The canopy cover encourages further colonisation by small birds and also allows for many light sensitive small plants such as Orchids to colonise the site. Large trees (Eucalypts and Sheoaks) attain a height suitable for large birds of prey such as eagles and kestrels to roost. Large trees develop crevices and nooks in their bark allowing native microbats to colonise the site.

Years 30-100: Longer-lived species such as Sheoaks and Tea-trees complete their lifecycle, creating hollow logs for parrots and larger bats.           

Year 100+: As the site fully matures the Eucalypts will develop large hollows suitable for many birds and mammals. Some patches of shrubs may naturally die out and give way to native grasslands

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