Site stud­ies hope to re­store farm­land

Midwest Times - - NEWS -

A sci­ence stu­dent and Eu­rardy res­i­dent is us­ing sites in the Mid West to in­ves­ti­gate how best to re­store de­graded farm­land.

Mur­doch Univer­sity stu­dent Tina Schroeder is study­ing nine sites east of Ger­ald­ton to in­ves­ti­gate if de­graded land can be re­stored to a qual­ity sim­i­lar to the rich bio­di­ver­sity of na­tive wood­lands.

A univer­sity spokesman said re­stored ar­eas could also pro­vide im­por­tant habi­tat for wildlife be­cause na­tive wood­land habi­tats wer frag­mented in the north­ern Wheat­belt.

Ms Schroeder said her re­search into how eco­log­i­cal func­tions and bio­di­ver­sity had changed in the reveg­e­tated sites and how closely they re­sem­bled na­tive rem­nant wood­lands aimed to an­swer im­por­tant ques­tions. “We would like to know: if we plant trees, do we sim­ply end up with a site that is sim­i­lar to the con­di­tion of agri­cul­tural land, or will we see a re­turn of eco­log­i­cal func­tion and bio­di­ver­sity to con­di­tions match­ing the high qua-lity rem­nant wood­lands?” she said.

Ms Schroeder is col­lect­ing data from aban­doned agri­cul­tural, reveg­e­tated and ref­er­ence wood­land sites.

The reveg­e­tated sites have been planted with york gums and other na­tive un­der­storey species.

Ms Schroeder said her find­ings would pro­vide valu­able in­sights for the re­gion, which had a grow­ing prob­lem with de­graded farm land.

“Re­stored ar­eas could also pro­vide im­por­tant habi­tat for wildlife be­cause na­tive wood­land habi­tats are small and frag­mented in the north­ern Wheat­belt,” she said.

Her data col­lec­tion fo­cuses on the num­ber and diver­sity of plant life and in­ver­te­brate species, in­clud­ing bee­tles and ants, as well as soil prop­er­ties such as wa­ter in­fil­tra­tion and soil com­paction.

Ms Schroeder said un­der­stand­ing more about the process of restor­ing de­graded land­scapes was be­com­ing more im­por­tant for the pro­tec­tion of na­tive species and their habi­tats be­cause of rapid en­vi­ron­men­tal change and on­go­ing degra­da­tion.

“My re­search will pro­vide an eval­u­a­tion of restora­tion out­comes that will guide restora­tion ac­tiv­i­ties in the Mid West and other agri­cul­tural re­gions,” she said.

Ms Schroeder’s re­search is sup­ported by Bush Her­itage Aus­tralia and Car­bon Neu­tral Pty Ltd.

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