Marra Creek waterponding program
In the Marra Creek district (western NSW) around 100,000 hectares had become bare and scalded due to grazing pressure, drought, and wind and water erosion over long time periods. These scalded areas have virtually no vegetation and habitat for local fauna. Biodiversity and farm production are heavily impacted; and exposed soil means that erosion continues. Even with grazing pressure removed, the crusted smooth surface, poor water infiltration and high salt surface levels mean that rehabilitation will not happen naturally for a very long time.
Work had been undertaken historically to restore these lands, but the process was failing due to limited equipment, knowledge, and resources. In 1984, a four year program was established to develop effective management techniques to address these problems.
Over the program lifespan, 40 demonstration sites were established on properties in the Marra Creek area (north of Nyngan, NSW) with dramatic improvements in ground cover and species diversity. This was achieved not only by natural regeneration but also by direct sowing of native grasses and saltbush. Around 30,000 hectares of severely degraded land was treated for biodiversity and production outcomes.
Since that time around 36,000 hectares of land in total has been treated in the Nyngan area. While grazing continues and is an important justification for the work, the plant species returned to the sites include all species previously occurring in the sandy loam ecosystems. In some areas, sandy loam topsoils are starting to build up around the shrubs and sub-shrubs.
Through this body of work, the waterponding process was perfected and documented. It is now a proven land restoration technique and has become recognised and adopted globally.