Monday, September 19, 2011

New Forum, New Land: 2011 Land Restoration Forum

What an awesome forum!! There was soil carbon, holistic farming practices, soil properties of shell middens and their significance, ISO 14001 environmental standards and biochar... all new awesome things in the story of land restoration.  

The NSW/ACT branch of Soil Science Australia held the first  Land Restoration Forum at the Fenner School, ANU. The day was packed with many different topics on the land degradation and restoration theme.

Broad topics on the day included... 
Vanessa Wong discussing some of the issues of acid sulphate soils and sea level rise, with particular issues of heavy metal releases. The controversial Sydney Barangaroo development even got a mention by Simon Leake regarding issues of soil nutrient and plant toxicity in its revegetation. Jane Aiken discussed the need to consider ecological frameworks within ISO 14001 environmental standards, including in the restoration of mined landscapes. Truffles and their likes and dislikes for soil properties was a tasty delight from Hannah Selmes. Whilst Roy Lawrie explained understanding soil properties of Indigenous shell middens and its importance in restoration and conservation.

By far, the Hot Topic of the day was soil carbon and sustainable farming...
Zoe Read discussed the potential of scalded soils to hold carbon, and that water-ponding as a remediation tool actually increased carbon contents further! Whilst Helen King presented some of the amazing photos from her fieldwork on understanding soil carbon under different grazing systems.  Martyn Noakes, a farmer from Bredbo, also brought some amazing photos of his farm before and after changing farming practices to more sustainable methods. There was more interest with carbon applications to soil. This included two honours students, Jo Seng and Sarah Hill, discussed their research into biochar applications to soil. Dr John Williams also gave a lecture on the need to think about holistic land management and the interface between soil, water and plants.

I gave a photo-filled talk at the end of the day on creative uses for old mines. Although I have written a technical abstract, you can find my article From Mine to Wine on The Conversation.

A great day was had by all, and some amazing research was presented. Looking forward to the next Land Restoration forum!