New approaches to rehabilitating mined areas may have germinated during a five-day international think-tank to advance seed technology research.
Experts from Australia, South Africa and the United States were involved in the think-tank, which was part of the $5 million Restoration Seed Bank initiative - a research partnership between The University of Western Australia, Kings Park and Botanic Garden, and BHP Billiton Iron Ore.
In workshops at Kings Park and Botanic Garden and a two-day field trip to BHP Billiton Iron Ore rehabilitation sites in the Pilbara, plant scientists, ecologists, engineers and environmental managers reviewed the latest in rehabilitation practices and brainstormed solutions for native plant establishment.
Seed is at the heart of practical and sustainable solutions to restore biodiversity to degraded landscapes, but low establishment rates have frustrated attempts to rebuild biodiversity in WA and elsewhere.
It is hoped the work of the think-tank team will help the Seed Bank in its aims to develop the science, knowledge and technical skills for cost-effective and scalable rehabilitation of native vegetation in the Pilbara.
University of California Sierra Foothill and Extension Centre Director Jeremy James was a member of the think-tank, which met in mid-January.
"The value of the Pilbara for biodiversity conservation is priceless, especially for people who have never been there before," Dr James said.
The fundamental approaches and principles established by the think-tank and more comprehensively with the Seed Bank could be used as a model in future to tackle similar biodiversity and conservation challenges facing the globe, he said.