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Let the planting begin! Koreng Noongar Country, Western Australia. By Adrian Gaspari, Green Man Media
Let the planting begin! Koreng Noongar Country, Western Australia. By Adrian Gaspari, Green Man Media

Restoration and carbon capture

Words by: Will Sacre
Location: Koreng Noongar Country, Western Australia
Published 27 Oct 2023

The first seeds of a world-class restoration project are planted and set the bar for future carbon projects.

Carbon capture projects can be complex and often leave the devoted environmentalist perplexed. But what if there was a way to ensure biodiversity doesn’t lose its seat at a project’s table?

In partnership with Greening Australia, our restoration work at Ediegarrup Reserve is setting a new standard for carbon sequestration. Ediegarrup Reserve is 140km east of Albany on Koreng Noongar Country in south-west Western Australia and nestled between the Stirling Range and Fitzgerald River National Park.

The paddock that is revegetated at Ediegarrup Reserve, Koreng Noongar Country, Western Australia. By Adrian Gaspari, Green Man Media

Together, the plan is to restore bushland on 600 hectares of cleared, unproductive land, that will sequester an estimated 85,000 tonnes of carbon over the project’s lifetime and expand the Gondwana Link: a natural corridor that connects the wet forests in Western Australia’s south-west corner to the dry woodlands and mallee that borders the Nullarbor Plain.

“A typical carbon reforestation project only plants a limited number of tree species,” says Healthy Landscapes Manager Alex Hams.

“This project will include around 150 species of local native plants. What we’re doing is not just ‘good for the climate’, but also ‘good for nature’.”

This region is an internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot and has provided for the Koreng Noongar people for over 60,000 years. Despite changes to land management since European settlement, they've maintained their connection to Country.

Checking the seedlings. By Adrian Gaspari, Green Man Media

Eugene Eades, a Noongar Elder and member of the Koreng Clan Group, reflects on the project’s development: “It’s been a wonderful journey to be a part of this along with the Noongar people, who were the first people connected to the Country. The land is in bad shape. There are rare species of animal life that are endangered – bird life, animal life, and vegetation life. We look at it from a cultural perspective. It’s our food, fruit, and medicinal plants.”

Standing on his ancestral lands, Eugene sees the broader picture. “This is the Gondwana Link story,” he says. “Heal the land, and the land will heal us. Simple as that.”

Planting with local Nowanup Rangers and Greening Australia has already begun, including eucalypt species commonly associated with carbon projects and supplemented with protaceous species such as hakeas, banksias and other ground cover species. 

The mix of seeds in the ground is a step towards replicating the vegetation structure and function of nearby intact bushland, to attract even more wildlife, like Ngoolark (Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo) and Gnow (malleefowl).

Rock and log structures will also be installed to create habitat and encourage the return of ground-dwelling animals. Blair Parsons, General Manager of Science and Design at Greening Australia says: 

“We’re striving to build high-end restoration in an ecologically strategic location and make use of multiple environmental markets to support this work. Together, we’re going above and beyond in terms of design, implementation and experimental trials that aim to enhance the quality of habitats being established.”

The team have done the research and planning to best restore the land to its precleared state, and underpinned the project through high-integrity third party standards and reporting frameworks to ensure its environmental and carbon values can be clearly measured and communicated. 

These include standards and reporting set by Accounting for Nature (AfN), the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) for the generation of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), and the Society of Ecological Restoration Australasia (SERA).

Together with Greening Australia, we're on the way to demonstrating that best practice carbon projects and biodiversity work well in tandem.

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