Site studies hope to restore farmland
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.