The WOMADelaide Forest: Offsetting the carbon emissions of Adelaide’s iconic music festival

This year marks the eleventh year of our award-winning partnership with Arts Projects Australia to offset the carbon emissions of the iconic WOMADelaide event through diverse tree plantings in Southern Australia.

Since 2007, $2 from every WOMADelaide ticket has been donated enabling more than 70,000 native trees to be planted across 65 hectares to establish the thriving WOMADelaide Forest.

“These trees will offset 16,250 tonnes of carbon during their lives and provide habitat for many rare and threatened bird species, such as the Hooded Robin and Diamond Firetail. It is nice to know that long after the music stops, WOMADelaide will be giving back to the landscape,” says Brendan Foran, CEO of Greening Australia.

Hooded Robin Hooded Robin

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 old, the forest has reached a vital point.

The WOMADelaide Forest sits on a priority area for revegetation, an ancient Woorinen sand dune system and lies between two significant conservation areas, the Ferries-McDonald Conservation Park and the Bremer River. Over time the forest will act as a stepping stone between the two areas, providing a wildlife corridor for a variety of native animals, including the Mallee Fowl and Mallee Emu-wren.

Biodiversity within the forest has improved dramatically since the forest was established.

Two bird counts conducted by landholders, staff, volunteers and local farmers have indicated a significant increase in the number of species in the forest. In 2008, just 17 different species of bird were recorded. By 2014, this number had grown to 70.

Young festival goers enjoying the activities on offer at our WOMADelaide stall in 2017. Young festival goers enjoying the activities on offer at our WOMADelaide stall in 2017.

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 WOMADelaide forest is a tiny fraction of what is required to ensure the long-term survival of our iconic native animals and landscapes.”

“With the current site now at capacity Greening Australia are seeking a new site for a second forest to be established with the help of the Adelaide community.”

Landholders with more than 40 hectares of available land within one hours drive of Adelaide are urged to contact Greening Australia to discuss this unique opportunity.

Greening Australia have run a stall at WOMADelaide for the past 13 years to raise awareness of the environment amongst festival goers and promote the organisation’s work and volunteer opportunities.

The Womad Forest – Site Timeline

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 project will benefit the environment:

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