Eurardy, Western Australia
Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to elders both past and present.
Eurardy Reserve is located on Nanda country and is about 6.5 hours’ drive north of Perth CBD (about 570km). Before its protection in 2005, it was used as a pastoral lease of which about 2,300 hectares had been cleared for agriculture and grazed extensively for decades. This, of course, changed the landscape and entire ecosystems were modified and degraded.
With the loss of vegetation, other land degradation occurred including fragmentation of habitat, dryland salinity, erosion, low soil seed bank levels, and chemical residue from fertilisers remaining in the soil. These factors have all posed significant problems when trying to rehabilitate the land.
On a positive note, around 27,750-hectares of the land was in a relatively undisturbed state. In these areas, once feral animal species were controlled, and erosion addressed, the land thrived.
What makes the area so special?
Eurardy is part of the South West Australia Ecoregion, which stretches from Shark Bay in the northwest down to Israelite Bay on the south coast. This ecoregion is a big deal because it’s internationally recognised as one of the world’s global biodiversity hotspots (the only one in Australia).
A ‘hotspot’ has nothing to do with temperature, and everything to do with the number of plant and animal species threatened by human activities (e.g. land clearing & degradation/habitat loss). These 36 exceptional areas of biodiversity are the Earth’s most biologically rich ‘threatened’ land and makeup just 2.4% of the landmass.
Eurardy is also located within what is known as the South Western Botanical Province (a province about the size of England). Provincial plants are special because they are limited to living in specific ecosystems determined by climate and vegetation type. For example, on Eurardy’s yellow soils (the soils that are harder to restore), you’ll find Kwongan Heathland, which is recognised globally as a significant threatened ecosystem.
Eurardy protects more than 500 plant species, including five nationally endangered or vulnerable species. In fact, in 2005, a plant called the 'Small-petalled Beyeria’ was rediscovered after being thought extinct!
The reserve also forms a crucial ecological linkage between the Kalbarri National Park to the west, and the Toolong Nature Reserve to the northeast, which is essential for protecting the region’s biodiversity and cultural history.
Although the reserve only occupies 0.23% of the Earth’s land surface, it contains at least 12.6% of its rare flora and fauna.
“This ground-breaking project gives us real opportunity to protect the species that call Eurardy home and provide lasting refuge for the future.”
Who owns the land?
The land was purchased in 2005 by Bush Heritage Australia for conservation and restoration, and Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund became a project partner in 2019. Together, we embarked on a journey with the aim to plant 1,000,000 trees on the reserve over at least 750 hectares of land. It is estimated that over 90,000 tonnes of carbon emissions will be offset by this project, which equates to taking off over 21,000 cars from Australian roads for a year.
In July 2019, CNCF fully funded and assisted in planting 36,000 biodiverse carbon seedlings on 200 hectares of the highly fertile red soils of the reserve. In a staged and carefully planned process, we planted overstorey species first (York Gums, Melaleucas, Acacia species). In the coming five years, understorey species of grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers will be infill planted on site to replicate the land as it used to be. By bringing back the bush, we hope we can bring back the plants and animals that used to call this area home.
Encouraging native local plants to recolonise the area is also part of the process. By planting what used to grow here, we hope that these plants will then set their seeds to the wind and eventually start to develop naturally self-sustaining habitats and ecosystems.
Restoring the land also has benefits for people. The wildflower tourism industry is a big part of the regional economy in the region and is internationally recognised. All the seed for revegetation is sourced onsite and grown locally.
While the yellow sands on-site are more difficult to restore because they are not as fertile, we will be planting less carbon-intensive plants that will still contribute to the ecological restoration of the area.
In 2020, CNCF and Bush Heritage Australia are planning to get another 186,000 seedlings in the ground: 215 new hectares will be planted and 100 hectares from 2019 will be infill planted. That’s over 300 hectares of planting!
How are the seedlings doing?
Our latest Eurardy Reserve report provides information on the successful planting of 36,500 seedlings in July 2019. In October 2019, approximately three months after the planting, the survival rate was at 98.5% and seedlings were very well established.
In March 2020, results showed a 22% drop in survival rates compared to the 98.5% of survival in October 2019.
This is a good result considering the extremely low rainfall of only 29mm between the two sampling periods. Sufficient winter rainfall in 2020 is critical for the continued survival of the seedlings.
Without a doubt, working alongside Bush Heritage Australia on this project has enabled some very real results to be seen on the ground in 2019 and 2020, and the future here looks exciting.
We would like to thank native plant agronomist Dr. Geoff Woodall for his expertise and guidance on this project and Tim Emmott from E-Scapes Environmental.
How can you, as a landowner, benefit from something like this?
When you work with us to rehabilitate your land, you are bringing the land back to health. Every plant in the ground helps to take carbon from the atmosphere and turn it into physical biomass (the plant’s body). Not only are you helping to mitigate the excess of carbon in the atmosphere, but you are also:
- creating additional biodiversity values for the farm/landholding
- lowering the water table
- fighting land salinisation
- stabilising erosion
- restoring your soil health
- providing shelter and mixed grazing fodder for livestock
- adding an extra income stream (in the case of sandalwood)
Landowners participating in a project with CNCF are creating a healthy farm which provides benefits for the environment and supports the local economy.
CNCF are currently seeking expressions of interest for landowners and groups in this area for future projects. So, if you think “maybe we should do this to our land,” please contact us to see how we can help you.
Don't have land? You can still help!
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