By Kristian Pisano
The cleared Banksia woodlands from the failed Roe 8 road project are slowly springing back to life, according to a Murdoch University-led rehabilitation study.
Dr Rachel Standish, biologist and senior ecology lecturer at Murdoch University, has supervised a team of 48 students at the site in Beeliar to assess its recovery so far.
The team found some encouraging signs of regrowth in the area and will return to the site next spring to build on the valuable data that has already been collected.
The cleared land was to be the path of the first stage of the former Barnett government’s most ambitious road project, the $1.9 billion Perth Freight Link, which was to include an extension of Roe Highway directly through the Beeliar Wetlands.
After many protests in the lead up to the 2017 State election, the newly elected McGowan government scrapped Roe 8 and re-allocated funds to other transport projects.
Environmentalists are keen to see the site return to its natural habitat, where banksias were abundant. Dr Standish says that appears to be possible because while the Banksia species usually drop their seeds after a fire, there is no evidence to suggest that Banksia are more difficult to recover compared to other plant species.
Any plant species that needs assistance will be replanted.
“The data we have collected will be used to determine which species will need replanting and which are recovering on their own,” Dr Standish said.
The team will draw on information about the Banksia that existed at the site prior to clearing.
“A pre-clearing survey was completed,” Dr Standish said.
It is understood that the pre-clearing survey did not include the density of Banksia, but it does provide information on the different types of native woodland and an assessment of the health of the Banksia prior to clearing.