Why we need to restore land
The sad reality is that much of south-western Australia was cleared before we, as a society, really understand and appreciated the incredible ecological importance of the place, let alone the incredibly high levels of local endemism and species change across the landscape. We now know that the remaining habitats are as biologically rich as tropical rainforests and other iconic areas on Earth. See this short animation for an explanation of this.
Tragically, in many areas, such as the central wheatbelt, it is only possible to retain some species in small reserves, with intensive management. Much has already been lost, more is being lost. It is only along the Gondwana link pathway that the opportunity remains to restore enough habitat to enable the ecological systems to be self-managing and self-healing, as they have been for some 250 million years.
To achieve this we need to ecologically restore some of the farmland between the main habitat areas, so that species and genes can once again move freely.
How we help
First and foremost, we provide the visionary rallying point that has stimulated an enormous amount of restoration since we started the program in 2002. Take the example of the first people to purchase and restore a property specifically in Gondwana Link, Eddy and Donna Wajon. They were thinking of buying a bush block, heard about our program, got in contact, realised that by restoring land here they would not only be assisting achieve a much bigger goal, but would also be amongst friends and colleagues who could assist with and be part of their adventure. The result, they purchased two properties, Mondurup Springs and Chingarrup Sanctuary, Greening Australia organised some great restoration at Chingarrup, and the camp-outs and monitoring programs they run are a real feature of the work in that part of the Link.
Since those early years, when pretty basic tree based revegetation was the norm, we have encouraged a much stronger focus on the benefits of ecologically focused restoration.
Using a combination of Conservation Action Planning and spatial prioritisation with the MCAS-S software we have established the priority areas where focused protection of remaining habitats and restoration of some farmland to ‘new’ habitats can restore the original ecological connectivity and resilience. Fort what we understand will be the first time in history we can have three large national parks reconnected and functioning as one ecological unit.
When restoring their Peniup property Greening Australia demonstrated a solid approach to ‘lifting the bar’ from revegetation to restoration (Peniup Ecological restoration summary). Other examples are Monjebup North restoration and Nowanup - Healing Country, Healing People.
We have also coordinated the initial development of a set of Restoration Standards, which have now been integrated into a set of National Standards. These provide guidance on the design and implementation of revegetation for ecological restoration, in order to help ensure that the best possible ecological outcomes are achieved. The standards are particularly applicable to any project aimed at restoration of native systems; they may also be applied to other revegetation projects, such as the development of commercial enterprises, revegetation for catchment hydrology or erosion control, or revegetation for amenity and other purposes on farms.
What the standards recognize is that not all revegetation – even of native species – can be considered to contribute equally to ecological function and biodiversity, and so to refer to any standard of revegetation of native species under the one label of “biodiverse” can be very misleading. The use of standard ratings for different revegetation activities based on the relative ecological benefits will assist those involved in Gondwana Link to identify the contributions made by various plantings to the Gondwana Link vision. Use of the standards helps to:
- Provide quality assurance for projects to be undertaken as part of recognised Gondwana Link efforts.
- Assist groups and individuals undertaking revegetation activities to consider in their planning and implementation the range of factors which increase the ecological benefits.
- Clarify the appropriate use of terms such as “restoration”, “rehabilitation”, “biodiverse revegetation” and “biodiverse enterprises” by providing consistent criteria.
What groups do
The scale and type of restoration being undertaken by groups is as diverse as the bushland they are restoring. All up, we estimate over 6,500ha has been planted and restored since the inception of the program, most of it in strategically critical locations.