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Selection of plants for revegetation of goldmine residue in the jarrah forest of south-western Australia

Samaraweera, M.K.S.A., Beaton, S., Bell, R.W. and Ho, G.E. (1994) Selection of plants for revegetation of goldmine residue in the jarrah forest of south-western Australia. In: Jones, I.O., (ed.) The Third International Conference on Environmental Issues and Waste Management in Energy and Mineral Production : proceedings : 30th August-1st September, 1994, Perth, Western Australia. Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia, pp. 619-626.

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Abstract

Mining at Boddington in the eastern jarrah forest of south-west Western Australia by Boddington Gold Mine and Hedges Gold produces 10 million tonnes of residue annual. This is stored in purpose built dams that will eventually cover 1000 ha. The residue has to support a variety of ecosystems from pasture to native vegetation. As this was the first gold mining operation in the south west of Western Australia, and the problems faced in vegetating the residue were unknown, the present field trial was aimed at selecting species suitable for revegetation. The experiments were conducted in a purpose built one hectare dam with a residue depth of about 1.5 metres. The salinity, sodicity and alkalinity of the residue were ameliorated by using a land preparation procedure selected from previous experiments: ripping, rotary hoeing, amending with gypsum (30 and 60 t/ha), mulching with organic matter (poultry manure) and covering with topsoil.

The 27 species of trees, shrubs, herbs, legumes, grasses and sedges tested were selected on the basis of their ability to tolerate salt-affected seasonally waterlogged clay soil. They were planted in spring 1992 and screened for their survival during the following 12 months. Survival of native species varied. For example, two of the local jarrah forest Eucalyptus species, E. marginata and E. patens, did not survive past the second month of summer. By contrast, salt tolerant species Atriplex amnicola, Casuarina glauca and Casuarinaobhesa survived and in some cases flourished. The grasses sown all germinated, grew and produced seed and some germinated the following season.

It was concluded that establishment of pasture or crops, and of non-endemic native vegetation on the amended residue is feasible but re-establishment of jarrah forest requires more investigation.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Curtin University of Technology
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/13009
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