Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor
Within the last 100 years, over 90% of the northern Wheatbelt (known as the Mid West) has been cleared for agriculture.
This has removed so much native habitat that many plant and animal species are extinct locally or regionally. Others, however, have hung on in woodland and shrubland remnants - usually on rocky ridges and commercially less productive upper valley slopes.
We at Carbon Neutral have a vision to reconnect these valuable remnant vegetation sites and link 12 nature reserves across a vast tract of land covering approximately 10,000 square kilometres.
By planting trees and shrubs at selected key sites, particularly on non-productive farmland. This will help establish habitat stepping stones and links for biodiversity to move and disperse back through the landscape. By reconnecting drier inland habitats with their coastal counterparts, the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor will help protect and recover our endangered and declining woodland, and shrubland fauna such as Malleefowl, Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo, Crested Bellbird, Western Yellow Robin and Western Spiny-tailed Skink.
This is Australia's largest revegetation project based on carbon capture and biodiversity
The Lie of the land
The Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor is located in Western Australia's northern agricultural region approximately 400 km north of Perth.
The Corridor features diverse ancient landscapes, from heavily weathered forming sandplains to heavier, more fertile red brown clay loams. The landscape once supported extensive woodlands of York gum and Salmon gum.
The ancient Yarra Yarra drainage line flows intermittently from the east to the Yarra Yarra Lakes near Three Springs. Most of the lakes and channels are saline, some naturally and some because of the massive clearing of the Wheatbelt, which has led to rising hypersaline groundwater tables.
Sequestration of Carbon
To ensure carbon yields are achieved in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor, Carbon Neutral undertakes a combination of both hand-planting seedlings and direct seeding.
Carbon focused species are those that have been identified as being greater than two metres tall at maturity, and which make substantial contributions to the local carbon pool through the accumulation of carbon in their woody stems, branches, and roots. These are mainly drought-tolerant Eucalypts and woody-stemmed Acacia species. The inclusion of hand-planted seedlings for those species with specific carbon sequestration capacities allows our Forester to control both the density and positioning of those individual trees.
WHY IS BIODIVERSITY IMPORTANT
Planting 20 to 40 native tree and shrub species creates vital ‘co-benefits’, including biodiverse-rich habitat for wildlife. Native plants and animals thrive in large, well-connected patches of high quality habitat that meet their life cycle needs of food, shelter and reproduction.
Our planting management focus is on the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. Some reforestation companies plant only a single species – a monoculture. Monoculture plantings provide limited ecological function and habitat benefits, and are less resilient than biodiverse plantings.
This helps to provide habitat in future forests and woodlands for our very special flora and fauna.
Globally recognised ‘HOTSPOT’
The Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor is found within the globally recognised Southwest Australia Hotspot. Conservation International, a world authority on biodiversity conservation, identified Southwest Australia as one of only 35 globally significant Hotspots.
Everything to Gain
As well as enhancing biodiversity and sequestering greenhouse gas emissions, trees planted by Carbon Neutral contribute towards reducing soil salinity, saving and restoring water quality, cutting soil and water erosion and providing windbreaks.
Researchers have also identified a correlation between widespread land clearing and less rainfall in Western Australia’s Southwest region. This implies that reforestation may well have a positive effect on rainfall.
These 'Hotspots' account for 90% of all species on earth, are known to hold especially high numbers of species found nowhere else and have already lost at least 70% of their primary, native vegetation.
Measuring and Protecting
On-ground measurement of carbon is based on detailed growth models using species-specific allometric equations to reflect the amount of carbon stored in the forest. These measurements and sampling techniques are part of our methodology development under the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative.
Carbon Neutral also contributes to CSIRO’s project “CFI Methodology and Tool Development – Estimation of change in biomass carbon in complex woody systems”.
Not only that, every year for three years our planting sites will be monitored for health and survival. Monitoring reports will be posted on Carbon Neutral’s website.
The trees are legally protected for 100 years by a Carbon Right and Carbon Covenant.
It’s not just us
Carbon Neutral acknowledges the support from a number of stakeholders in its biodiverse restoration:
WWF, BirdLife Australia, Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund, Shire of Morawa, Shire of Perenjori, Bush Heritage, Department of Parks and Wildlife, NACC, Auscarbon, InSight Ecology and the Yarra Yarra Catchment Management Group.
The project has and will continue to provide a number of socio-economic benefits to nearby communities.