Wattles in revegetation

Three cheers for the green and gold

Tablelands Telegraph - October 2021

Wattles just don’t provide our national teams with a great colour combination for their uniforms and a floral emblem… they are an integral part of our environment.

As the spring flowering of wattles winds down it might be time to talk about the importance of wattles in any revegetation project.

Wattles are diverse genus of plants that vary in appearance and growth habit.  They can be low spreading shrubs like the Hairy Wattle (Acacia vestita) or large trees such as the Blackwood Wattle (Acacia melanoxylon). Known scientifically as acacia’s, they have nearly 1,000 species nationally making them the largest group of flowering plants in Australia.

So why would you include them in a revegetation project?

Wattles are referred to as a pioneer species.  They are the first to germinate after a disturbance event. This is useful as they provide cover and protection for other species and can create a microclimate that allows other species to survive.

The rapid growth of wattles protects bare soil, often preventing erosion. They can also fix nitrogen that provide nutrients for other plants restoring fertility of the soil.  Being short lived they provide this service while other slower growing species can establish themselves. Kurrajong are a species that benefits from wattles. The extra nutrients provided and the need for them to grow to the light can often speed what is normally a very slow growing species.

In a revegetation project it is important to provide structural diversity.  This provides habitat for the smaller birds that can assist in managing insect pests and maintain the health of the vegetation. Increasing numbers of Noisy Minors can be reduced with an intact mid storey layer while providing shelter and habitat for a wider range of bird species.

If you are lucky enough to still have wattles on your property you can propagate from seed quite easily. They have a hard seed coat, so they need to be treated to get the best germination rates.  Just pour boiling water over them and then soak overnight, they can be either sown in trays for transplanting later or sown directly into your project area.

In any revegetation project we recommend a minimum of 50% shrubs with wattles an obvious choice. To get the right species for your area you can search intact remnant areas to see what grows in your area or ask one of our Land Services Officers for a list of local species that may be suitable.

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