Broken Hill, NSW
Years of drought have taken a toll on the main roads into Broken Hill in NSW. A census found that more than 1,000 trees have died from 3,000 planted. But Pro Hart Way, the road from town to the airport is bucking the trend thanks to a handful of volunteers from Landcare Broken Hill. With support from Highways and Byways, the group has spent six months regenerating a 1 km patch on both sides of the road in a bid to rescue existing plant life and nurture new shrubs and ground covers.
The group’s Treasurer Sharon Hocking said volunteers have worked hard to lift the land’s health and to make it look like it once did. They spread 60 tonnes of mulch and planted 80 trees, shrubs and grasses. Kangaroo grass re-appeared after not being seen in years. The group hand-waters new plants until they are well-established.
Arguably the group’s biggest achievement has been the construction of 120 ‘leaky dams’ that have helped improve soil retention and reduce water runoff in Broken Hill’s Regeneration Area. Sharon said the leaky dams have made a huge difference. Made by weaving dead wood and branches from nearby trees, the leaky dams slow run-off and capture water and nutrients for nearby plants.
“It’s such a simple method but so effective; it fills in eroded gullies by catching leaves and silt. The water infiltrates the ground, instead of running away” Sharon said. “This area was denuded; trees were dying or dead; there wasn’t a thing growing. Now there are wildflowers and massive amount of growth in the area.”
The project has built partnerships with the Broken Hill Council and Essential Energy, which supplies mulch made from lopped trees. Soil carbon and soil quality measures were taken from portions of the project, as part of understanding how to improve soils across western NSW. Soil carbon and soil quality increased markedly in under 12 months.
The group continues to care for Pro Hart Way and is now taking on regeneration of Broken Hill’s Imperial Lakes.