Tuart woodland bouncing back in Rockingham

September 19, 2013

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Ross Johnston, Bushland Maintainer, with Leonie Stubbs, Friends of Paganoni Swamp Bushland staff member.

A new generation of Tuart seedlings is getting a head start in Rockingham Lakes Regional Park thanks to an innovative ashbed reseeding technique.

The collaborative project involves Murdoch University, the City of Rockingham, Friends of Paganoni Swamp Bushland and the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Coordinator Dr Katinka Ruthrof from Murdoch’s Centre of Excellence for Climate Change, Woodland and Forest Health said it was thrilling to see her research into Tuart regeneration having a tangible outcome.

“On average, we’ve had 40 seedlings germinate in each ashbed, which is a fantastic outcome and very encouraging for restoration of this regionally significant Tuart woodland,” Dr Ruthrof said.

“Dixon Road Conservation Park has been hard hit in recent years, with a severe and sudden dieback event coinciding with extreme drought and heat in 2011, and then a fire in January 2013, which burnt hectares of woodland.

“Because of the dieback event, there was no fruit, and therefore no seeds to be released, so our only option for regeneration of the Tuarts was active intervention.”

Together with the City of Mandurah, the Peel Harvey Catchment Council and local volunteer groups, Dr Ruthrof first organised a program in which volunteers collected Tuart seeds.

In April, these seeds were sown into the naturally occurring ashbeds left by the fire and raked lightly to protect them from ants, a major Tuart seed predator.

“Research has shown that ashbeds are sites where high temperatures are reached during a fire, which releases nutrients from the soil and increases water infiltration,” Dr Ruthrof said.

“This allows us to use the natural features of the land and thus have a low impact environmentally.”

Dr Ruthrof said the group were regularly revisiting and monitoring the seedlings and would continue to do so to determine if this regeneration method could be used elsewhere when prescribed or unplanned burning takes place in Tuart woodlands and forests.

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