Greening Australia's Desert

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by ang, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. kimbo.parker

    kimbo.parker Junior Member

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    hello,

    somewhere above; the notion of controlling the climate through re-vegetation was mentioned...with
    'starting at the rivers and working out to the ridges' proposed as a modis operandi....

    conventional wisdom ( western australia ) holds that the re-veg should commence on the ridges ( recharge zones ) and finish at the river ( discharge zones).
    as salinity (water quality) is our issue, and saline groundwater our big challenge, we can not address the problem at the discharge in the salt.

    the proposition is to use the water where it falls ( upon the ridges )
    such that the discharge burden in the valleys is reduced and groundwater levels retreat.

    as we re veg down from the ridges we enter into progressively improved country from upland plantings. As we get lower down in the landscape with our plantings, we hope to have groundwater in retreat.

    to reveg the river valleys first, is to kill all those trees as soon as their root systems hit the salt.


    this is straight out of the designers manual, but may not apply if salinity is not an issue.
    my understanding of the australian conditon is; if there was no salt problem, there would be no water problem.

    we have water in the ground,,,it is salty,,,it is salty because it has risen dissolving soil held salt along the way.
    now we need deep drains on a massive scale to drain this excessive and very salty ground water to rivers....

    in some cases the old rivers now flow the wrong way...(Geophysical alterations )...and the job of getting this saline water to somewhere other than rural country is going to require a governments funding because it is huge....big earthworks.

    then, plant trees.
    not before then, unless it is on the ridges and not in the valleys,,,,always looking to the cause of the problem,,,,the cleared ridges which should never have been cleared.

    re-veging at such a scale to influence rainfall is a massive undertaking...
    re-veging to halt climate change is naive....
    re-veging itself needs to factor in climate change with species selection.

    deserts are capable of sustaining small population groups very well.
    a desert dwelling demographic will evolve where it wasn't.

    i'm not fazed by climate change since i embraced a desert existence ( with time to prepare ).
    things are moving faster...probably because of human activity (who cares - faster is the key point)

    exciting is what it is!
    opportunity ditto.

    a nice dry desert is a good place to survive a pandemic.
     
  2. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    I left some grass hay bales sitting on some hard clay (rock) base a few years ago. The square bales were stacked in a single layer so that the rain could get into them for use as compost additive... within 12 months these bales had grown a rich crop of grass which i could walk on and mow into a perfect lawn... I ended up planting straight into the rotten hay which was sitting on top of the hard clay base. It was a bumper crop... The point being, we can avoid the salt issue by building up, planting and letting the trees do what they were doing for the salt table before it became an issue....

    I agree kimbo, it would be a massive undertaking.... but if you give me the men and the tools and sufficient time to do it, I could move a mountain...
     
  3. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Are there tree species that survive the salinity?
     
  4. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    YEP!! That's one of the starting points to lowering the salt table. Many ficus species are salt tolerant, Araucaria species, Many melaleuca species also..... Its something that could easily be achieved of the next 100 - 200 years.
     
  5. kimbo.parker

    kimbo.parker Junior Member

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    *culture credo "fix probs at the cause"

    salt tolerant implies a range of 'tollerance' among observed established species within observable saline conditions....

    the range of seedlings that will happily grow into hyper saline, saturated solutions is small....

    "you could learn to swim, or you could fix the leak"

    utilisation of salted country is possible,,,saltbush are lovely and come in a great range of species and function....

    but we don't want any more really,,,because we are loosing vast tracts of previously productive agricultural land to salinity.....

    it is a small consolation that we can do salt orientated shit with the land later as part of what was lost.

    the salinity issue is not being addressed, is not getting the media coverage, is not getting the fix, and the enviro-impact is massive,,,,gi frgn normous.

    100 year old trees karking it in their thousands....
    how many trays of saltbush seedlings make up for old climax woodlands? (i'd suggest no amount).

    the response to this 'woodland / farmland catastrophe' is ineffective....some property owners acting alone and unsupported.....

    The salinity issue is a good metaphor for the climate change issue...

    it is not an agricultural problem ,,,,
    geophysical changes are a constant, australia is a flatish country, many of its rivers were 'flowing' only sporadically on marginal gradients when agriculture started a couple of hundred years ago....

    agricultural clearing only hastened the speed of change.

    addressing the cause, not the look, forces ones eyes to see the salty groundwater encroaching on the topsoil and rising!,,,and causes one to look up-slope to the denuded ridges;
    and the understanding is;
    the ridges water is here it should not be so;
    if the ridges water was 'ever so slowly' moving its way through the sub soil conduits, it would be in the main within the land up-slope.
    if there had been trees there, there would have been infiltration; infiltration results in a controlled discharge into the valleys and their groundwater systems.

    as it is,,,the trees are missing up-slope,,,the rain dies not infiltrate...it runs off to the valleys where it sits, ponding, adding to the salinity, dissolving more of the salt in the old seabed which is the soil....an expanding.

    as hyper saline solutions invade previous fresh pockets in the groundwater system, bores turn salty, big trees die, the groundwater rises, more salts dissolve, more big trees die.

    mulching the salt flat eric?...i'm sure would improve the aesthetic and establish a doomed few inches of topsoil above a salt scour....would it not.

    a good salt scour can be many things to a *culturist--
    lets consider our resources; salt and water in hyper saline solution, denuded bit of ground..........

    approach 1 turn it into a garden.
    approach 2 turn it into something else.....hot water heater, light reflector, etc
    approach 3 scrap it and commence reclamation.

    as a designer, i would choose (2) while i was doing (3)
    i could not justify doing (1)....

    because it makes no sense to take the opposite to what you need for a job and start from there,,,particularly as an excuse for 'design'.

    not even nature wants to garden with a salt scald,,,else it wouldn't be a salt scald.

    cheers
    k
     
  6. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    More like mulching specific areas to establish greenery that will in time help put the salt back where it should be. I'm sure establishing food forests in the desert would not be considered a weekend backyard garden.
     
  7. .

    milifestyle, i think yer managed to make a mess of the thread.

    Post #3 ecodharmamark brings up a point which was referenced in my now missing reply. Others via posts #5, #7, #8, #13 and #14 bring up questions etc which are then unanswered as my posts have been removed Some questions i have not yet replyed to and part of the context of any answers i might offer are now missing from this thread.

    I would of thought most around here are adult enuf to deal with a couple of thread 'excursions'....





    .
     
  8. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Perhaps it would have been more logical to bring up the alternative topic in a different thread... you could have referenced the new thread in your replies in this thread if there was relevance to the topic.
     
  9. .

    Good idea.

    The problem i see though is my posts were in reply to subjects introduced by other posters - reference the first three of my posts removed from this thread, now here... http://forums.permaculture.org.au/showthread.php?8257-Global-Warming listed as #1, #2, #3 in the new thread.

    ...anyway, thread drifting again, i'll leave it with yer to work out... 8)




    .
     
  10. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Binghy, for someone who is a non-believer in global warming, you sure know how to get heated!
     
  11. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    New CSIRO book
    New Titles email alert for September. For more titles, browse or search our online catalogue

    [​IMG]

    Desert Channels The Impulse to Conserve Libby Robin, Chris Dickman, Mandy Martin

    Desert Channels
    is a beautifully presented book, combining art, science and history to explore the ‘impulse to conserve’ in the distinctive Desert Channels country of south-western Queensland. The region is the source of Australia’s major inland-flowing desert rivers and the location of some of Australia’s most interesting new conservation initiatives. ​
    Conservation biology in the Desert Channels region has a distinguished scientific history, and includes two decades of ecological work by scientific editor Chris Dickman. Chris is one of Australia's leading terrestrial ecologists and mammalogists. Libby Robin, historian and award-winning writer, has coordinated the writings of the 46 contributors whose voices collectively portray the region in all its facets. The text is supplemented by works from acclaimed artist, Mandy Martin, who has produced suites of artworks over three seasons. ​
    DUE Sep 2010 - CSIRO PUBLISHING - 352pp - Colour illustrations Hardback - 9780643097490 - $59.95
     
  12. Treehuggingtreecutter

    Treehuggingtreecutter New Member

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    I'm located in California. Out here one of our biggest problems is the un-sustainability of our second growth forests. They will just burn up without proper thinning and pruning....this is ultimately going to lead to desertification. I hear all the time that the problem is too big...there are no economical solutions....blah, blah, blah. If you consider that men (only half of the population) were able to take down and move millions of the old growth trees and that much of the work was done even before petrochemicals that to me is proof that the issue is not one of capability it is of political will and motivation.

    Regreening Australia or New Mexico or Northern Africa is not only possible it is totally doable. I have been totally wrapped up in the Permaculture designer manual for the last couple weeks. Rock gabbions and seedlings are cheap and portable. I think we need to be doing more earth works projects like, swales while we are still in the era of cheap energy or it really may become impossible.

    I would love to see more projects like the Greening the Desert pilot project. Once one project has been implemented and is passively infiltrating water and building it's own soil, it would seem to me that satellite sites can be established close by. I think we can do allot in 100 years and if we have a 1000 year timeline we can change the whole planet.

    Just my 2 cents...I'd love to hear back from people with experience with dryland living.
     
  13. Peter

    Peter Junior Member

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    Hi Ang,
    What part of Australia's deserts are you talking about?
    There are some parts that do get some rain and some cactus that can produce economical crops if the land is close to rail or road. I have looked into this when wanting to plant Jatropha curcas there but the bureaucrats have banned it (they don't really know why). Conclusion - It can be done and it can make money but the transport infrastructure must be there.
     
  14. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    i think peter,

    that michael is now dearly departed may his soul be resting in peace

    len
     
  15. Peter

    Peter Junior Member

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    Sorry. I must check the date of the post in the furture.
    Cheers
     
  16. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    Some of these older threads are worth the forum necromancy.
     
  17. Peter

    Peter Junior Member

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  18. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    sorry i agree with UM,

    all i was passing on was that an answer from mike will not appear, of course all threads have value

    len
     
  19. Jaza613

    Jaza613 New Member

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  20. Andrew Cavanagh

    Andrew Cavanagh New Member

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    One practical approach would be to start with the large sheep and cattle stations in semi arid areas.

    Fitting those with swales and dams, planting with fodder trees, other permaculture guilds and building more human settlement areas with food gardens and homes people would want to live in would help make those properties much more profitable and move towards greening the edges of the desert and dramatically improving human habitation.

    You could cook, produce hot water and possibly even generate power in these human structures by burning dead wood cleared to make them safe from fires. With the right types of designs (TLUD cookers or any form of pyrolysis) you'd produce charcoal as a by product of this cooking, hot water production and even power generation.

    Ruminants like sheep and cattle produce less methane and require less food if you feed them charcoal and since these areas already have dung beetles as manure control the charcoal that comes out of the back end of the animals will be largely incorporated into the soil turning the enterprise into a carbon negative one.

    This type of approach gives you some big advantages...you're dealing directly with business owners supplying them with a profitable solution that's also green, climate friendly and sustainable.

    You attract people to live on stations who want to live sustainably.

    And you create huge working models and edges where the system can be expanded from.
     

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