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Australian Aboriginal Culture & Didgeridoo News and Articles:

Revegetation project on degraded land.

In mid-June we started an exciting project of revegetating an all but cleared farm in Beverley, 150 km East of Perth in the huge West-Australian wheatbelt.
The agricultural district was first settled in the 1830's. Virtually all the farm was cleared for crops and the best country for agriculture, the woodlands on heavier soils in the valleys, were cleared by hand. Much of the sand plains were cleared post 1950 with the advent of bulldozers and trace elements, some in the last twenty years. Remnant native vegetation areas were cleared in the early days as they were seen to harbour introduced rabbits. The remnant vegetation patches left are mostly the areas unsuitable for agriculture: the granite outcrops, breakaway country and vegetated creek lines (visible on the picture of the farm below). Woodlands are very poorly represented in small and isolated reserves and much of the woodlands that do remain on private land have been degraded by grazing and weed invasion.

Farm gully, Western Australia.

(Cleared granite boulders, badly eroded gully and naturally vegetated fresh water stream visible here on the farm)

This year we are helping the owners of the farm to plant another 4500 seedlings of native locals trees and understorey under the "Farm Tree Help Scheme" of the "Men Of The Tree" organization, to strengthen the revegetation of the farm each year. We want to give our support to Iris, John, Bernie and Jamie's great vision of creating a better future and a sustainable income for years to come.

The tree planting team. Pictured right with the planting team are some of the samples, they consist of :

- Eucalyptus loxophleba
  "York gum"
- Eucalyptus salmonophloia
  "Salmon gum"
- Eucalyptus drummondii Mallee
  "Drummond's gum"
- Acacia acuminata
  "Raspberry Jam Wattle"
- Allocasuarina huegeliana
  "Granite Rock Sheoak"
- Calothamnus quadrifidus
 "One Sided Bottlebrush"

We are especially excited about the project because we are planting the famous Mallees which are used for Didgeridoos. That species, Eucalyptus drummondii, is similar in aspect and value of the timber to the one from the Goldfields, Eucalyptus celastroides or "Snap and Rattle". For a description of the Mallee, follow the link  Mallee Tree
We intend to help the planting and maintenance every year to monitor the growth and adaptation of the trees and bushes.
We would also like to be able in the future to replace every Didgeridoo stem cut by a Eucalyptus Mallee tree.  We'll keep you updated!

Ancient granite boulders of the farm. John checking growth after 10 months.

The objectives of the planting are:
-   Assisting contour banks and gullies in absorbing or diverting surface and underground water seepage contributing to soil erosion and the rise of the salty water table in salt affected streams.
-   Creating windbreaks assisting in reducing wind erosion responsible for a big amount of top-soil lost each year, in cultivated paddocks
-   Lowering the water table level where it is increasingly saline, to reduce the loss of native vegetation and fertile land suitable for commercial crops.
-   Vegetating dams combining water supply, wildlife habitat reserves, fish and crustacean breeding for food supply, (in West-Australia: yabbies and kunnacks).
-   Wildlife corridors connecting high rocky outcrops (visible in top pictures), to creeks and streams, working as a whole on the rehabilitation of the revegetated farm.


Wetlands ravaged by salt

From the air and in the satellite photograph, it lies like a white blanket across the Australian landscape, marketing the spreading expanses of once fertile agricultural land now taken out of production by the inexorable advance of sheets of surface salts! This is the "white death", the growing salinisation problem thought to have destroyed ancient irrigation systems, civilisations and numerous eco-systems, now eating away at Australia's precious resources of agricultural and pastoral land.
Dryland salinity, the gradual loss of farm and grazing land to rising salt, is a massive problem, hard to comprehend and harder still to stop. There is salt everywhere in Australia; vast amounts of it, mostly located underground. It has built up over many thousands of years, originating from the weathering of rock minerals or the simple act of sea salt dropping via rain or wind.
The native Australian vegetation evolved to be salt-tolerant. Many of the woodland species, for example, have deep roots and a high demand for water. Whilst the system was in balance, the salt stayed put. But when European farming arrived and replaced the native species with crop and pasture plants that have shorter roots and need less water, the inevitable happened. With every fall of rain, unused water "leaks" down to the water table, raising it, and bringing the salt up with it. That process continues today, and the volumes of water and salt are vast.
Under the soils of the Western Australian wheabelt and part of Eastern Australia the salt store is so immense, and the movement of sub-surface water so slow, that restoration to fertility of salt-affected land will take generations.
Some areas may never recover.
In Australia, it is estimated that many billions of trees have been removed.
2,5 million hectares of land are affected by salinity and there is a potential for this to increase to 15 millions hectares, much of this in some of our most productive agricultural land.
It's taken a long time for the political establishment to grasp the seriousness of the problem.

The good thing in this distressing prospect are the initiatives, involment and common efforts from the government and various members of the community: environmental and community groups, local landcare associations, farmers and individuals to try to make a difference by getting physically involved and reverse the balance.
Men of the trees is one of these groups and is involved in many great active projects fighting salinisation and land degradation.   Men of the trees website

(All rights reserved. © 2003  Pictures Wandoo Didgeridoo,West-Australian newspapers. Courtesy of Department of Agriculture Western Australia,
ABC network, State Salinity Council Western Australia)

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