Noongar Boodja Rangers have been restoring country at Aldersyde near Brookton, planting about 28,000 seedlings since 2019 to help revegetate the local farmland.
The Biodiverse Sandalwood Project is a collaboration between Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management’s rangers, Carbon Positive Australia and FarmWoods’ Dr Peter Ritson with the aim of restoring soil health and reducing carbon.
Wheatbelt NRM rangers have planted about 28,000 seedlings, a mix of 12 species, and 150kg of seeds including native sandalwood across 33 hectares on a family farm in Brookton.
The area was previously used for livestock and cropping but had become prone to wind and water erosion.
Sandalwood plantations use host trees such as jam wattle but the rangers have been trialling a new method of restoration where they plant both host trees and a range of other native species.
The mix of species is designed to replicate the region’s native jam wattle and sandalwood woodlands, increasing biodiversity and the longevity of the restoration.
Wheatbelt NRM chief executive Karl O’Callaghan said the project had many benefits.
“We do various revegetation projects for different organisations, but this one is about sandalwood in Brookton,” he said.
‘It’s also a carbon project but sandalwood is natural to the area so it also tries to address some of the issues with sandy soils by planting sandalwood.”
Once the sandalwood trees are about 25 years old and have reached maturity the landowner can harvest the nuts and timber from the plant.
The rest of the plant will remain in place to help reduce the impact of erosion, restore soil health and encourage biodiversity.
Mr O’Callaghan said the rangers program was thriving.
“At Wheatbelt NRM we do a whole range of work but the rangers are delivering work on country,” he said.
“It’s important for them for restoration of their country.
“While they are doing this project they are doing other work such as seed collection and planting for some other organisations.”
The rangers will be working with Carbon Positive Australia to plant another 1000 seedlings this winter.