Western Australia is feeling the effects of climate change and decreasing rainfall patterns. The State also contains more than 70% of Australia's reported dryland salinity. Clearing of native vegetation has contributed to excess groundwater, soil salinity, water-logging and wind erosion.
Combined, these factors have serious negative impacts on land profitability, health of remnant vegetation, wetland systems and biodiversity.
The benefits of tree farming
Well designed integrated tree farming can deliver a range of benefits.
- Dryland salinity: substantial tree plantings in previously cleared areas will assist in managing the effects of salinity. Progress is monitored via bores located in planted areas and also in unplanted control areas in the same region, to produce comparative results.
- Water levels: in areas not yet affected by salinity, the rise in the water table caused by extensive land clearing can progressively make land unusable through water-logging. Well designed plantings are aimed at reducing and managing the level of the water table.
- Carbon sequestration: tree plantings are an effective strategy in offsetting the growing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases to the atmosphere. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through the process of photosynthesis.
- Commercial outputs: mature trees have a range of commercial uses, including timber for construction and furniture manufacturing, fibre for manufacture of wood products such as particle board, veneers for laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and exotic uses such as the sale of sandalwood for incense and oils. The harvesting, processing and marketing of mature trees have the potential to create sustainable jobs in regional areas.
- Farm benefits: stands of trees provide windbreaks, shelter for stock, help reduce soil erosion, and can help protect fragile natural vegetation, as well as providing biodiversity and aesthetic benefits on-farm. And, importantly, the project provides options for an income stream – often from unproductive areas - to assist in the main business activities of the farm.