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Beenup translocation site, November 2012. Dryandra nivea ssp. uliginosa and Darwinia ferricola healthy and surviving, visible in photo centre. Photo: I.R. Dixon. Beenup translocation site, June 2003. Previously covered in a stockpile of 18 metres clay, the site was cleared and prepared with two good quality soil types. Photo: I.R. Dixon.Project title: Translocation of Four Species of Declared Rare Flora from the Scott Coastal Plain Ironstone Communities to the BHP Billiton Beenup Rehabilitation Project

Dates: 2002 - 2007

Funding: BHP Billiton

Location: Beenup 295 km south of Perth, Western Australia

Research themes

  • seed and cuttings propagation
  • genetic diversity maintainance
  • correct site preparation and restoration
  • soil seedbanks
  • weed and disease control
  • self sustaining ecosystems

Project description

The following Declared Rare Flora species were translocated from the Scott Coastal Plain Ironstone Community to the BHP Billiton Beenup Rehabilitation Project: Grevillea brachystylis subsp. australis, Darwinia ferricola, Dryandra nivea subsp. uliginosa (now Banksia nivea subsp. uliginosa) and Lambertia orbifolia subsp. Scott River Plains.

This 'one year' pilot project including propagation, translocation requirements and population genetics was managed and monitored for six years. Only one site was used and planted in 2003. The project has performed well beyond our expectations, considering the poor growing conditions on a pre-mined extremely wet and sandy site over a solid ironstone base, which is exposed to strong winds. All of the four rare ironstone species are flowering as well as producing viable seed resulting in seedling recruitment of all species. Grevillea brachystylis subsp. australis has been recruiting seedlings in large numbers via seed generated from the translocated plants since 2004.

For this project we used good quality, pathogen-free topsoil placed over the top of solid ironstone. All the rehabilitated area on the mine site was direct seeded with a wide range of indigenous species. Combined with the seed bank, this quality topsoil has resulted in 50% more species recorded on site, compared to the surrounding poorer quality soils. Unfortunately the root pathogens Phytophthora and a Pythium species have been isolated from the site, probably due to free water flowing onto the site. The problem was addressed by spraying with half strength phosphoric acid twice a year, which appears to be controlling these diseases.

The last monitoring results indicated all species were still present in high numbers, contributing seed to the soil seedbank. A site visit in November 2012 indicated there were few weeds on site. Natural recruits of all species were increasing, especially Grevilleas. More than double the original number of plants were found on site, and many of the original plantings were still surviving. Other indigenous species germinating from the soil seedbank (natural and sown) have enriched the species diversity.

Past experience with bushland management, environmental weed control and other translocations, innovative scientific and experimental horticultural techniques have been the successful drivers of this project.

Key staff

Bob Dixon, Dr Siegy Krauss and Kings Park Volunteer Master Gardeners

Collaborators

BHP Billiton, Department of Parks and Wildlife (Albany, Busselton and Perth)

Publications

Dixon B (2012) Control of Wards weed Carrichtera annua on rare species translocation sites at Westonia in the eastern Wheatbelt of Western Australia. 18th Australian Weed Conference, Melbourne 8-10 Oct 2012. Pub. Weed Soc. Victoria: 57.

Dixon B (2010) Translocation of the resinous Eremophila, from test tube, to a degraded bushland site in the wheatbelt of Western Australia. Soorae, P.S. (ed). Global re-introduction perspectives: Additional case-studies from around the globe. IUCN/SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group, Abu Dhabi, UAE: 311-315.

Presentations

Dixon B (2010) Translocation of four rare ironstone endemic species onto a pre-mined area at Beenup in SW Australia. Soorae, P.S. (ed). Global re-introduction perspectives: Additional case-studies from around the globe. IUCN/SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group, Abu Dhabi, UAE: 301-310.

Dixon B (2005) Managing Phytophthora cinnanomi on a rare ironstone multi-translocation site in Western Australia. Australasian Plant Conservation 13:4: 18-19.