Getting to root of salt problem

It’s not easy being green, but at a salinity site near Western Plains Zoo the high survival rate of about 2000 trees has surprised project co-ordinators.
HangZhou Night Net

More than 95 per cent of the striplings planted last September have weathered the first critical months.

With little more than good ground preparation and some conscientious weed control the six species are thriving.

The two-hectare site is one of 50 trials west of the Blue Mountains and part of the State Salinity Management Strategy.

Locally the project is under the control of State Forests, Western Plains Zoo and Dubbo City Council.

“By choosing different sites, soil types and species the trial will determine which trees are the most suitable for production in terms of combating salinity and commercial viability,” council’s landcare director Ken Rogers said.

“We put the trees in and then basically left them to their own devices. In about 12 months we should be able to judge how that’s worked.”

Early days or not the zoo, which hopes one day to run animals on the site, believes there is an important message for landholders.

“We are much the same as a working farm except we have weird-looking animals instead of cows,” environment co-ordinator Phil Cameron said.

“It shows you can strategically plant trees, improve your productivity and still have a farm.”

State Forests western regional manager Paul Wells described the trial as “critical” in the fight against salinity. Planting trees, he said, sucked up carbon and lowered the water table.

“Once we give commercial value to those it will become profitable.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.