Reseeding helping woodlands recover

City of Rockingham bushland maintainer Ross Johnston with Friends of Paganoni Swamp volunteer Leonie Stubbs.
City of Rockingham bushland maintainer Ross Johnston with Friends of Paganoni Swamp volunteer Leonie Stubbs.

Murdoch University, the City of Rockingham, the Friends of Paganoni Swamp and the Department of Parks and Wildlife joined forces as part of an innovative ash bed-reseeding program to help the bushland recover.

Co-ordinator of the University’s Centre for Excellence for Climate Change, Woodland and Forest Health Katinka Ruthrof said it was thrilling to see the research into Tuart regeneration take place in the real world.

‘On average, we’ve had 40 seedlings germinate in each ash bed, which is a fantastic outcome and very encouraging for restoration of this regionally significant Tuart woodland,’ she said.

Dr Ruthrof said the park had a severe dieback event that coincided with a drought in 2011, then a fire in January this year.

‘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,’ she said.

Seeds were sown in April in naturally occurring ash beds, following January’s bushfire.

‘Research has shown that ash beds are sites where high temperatures are reached during a fire, which releases nutrients from the soil and increases water infiltration,’ she said.

‘This allows us to use natural features of the land and have a low impact environmentally.’

The method will be monitored to see whether it can be used elsewhere in WA.