Establishment of native tree species on coal tailings: lessons from Ebenezer mine, Queensland, Australia

Worrall, R.C., Spain, A.V., and Tibbett, M. (2008) Establishment of native tree species on coal tailings: lessons from Ebenezer mine, Queensland, Australia. In: Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure. pp. 739-750. From: Mine Closure 2008: the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure, 14-17 October 2008, Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Two experiments were conducted to determine the capacities of three salt and unundation tolerant tree species (Casuarina glauca, Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Melaleuca quinquenervia) to grow on saline-sodic tailings materials.

Over 2791 and 2141 days, respectively, C. glauca grew slightly taller than E. camaldulensis or M. quinquenervia, with the tallest trees achieving mean heights greater than 12 m. All species produced flowers or fruits although no seedling regeneration was noted. Casuarina glauca reproduced freely through coppicing and the production of root shoots. Survivorship was related to site drainage status and was poor in lower landscape positions where water ponded for periods after wet season rainfall.

Substantial litter layers (to 3.6 kg/m²) formed beneath the canopies of the surviving trees although masses declined steeply beyond the canopy margins. Very little admixing of litter with the underlying tailings materials occurred, indicating low faunal activity.

Fine and course roots were distributed throughout the upper tailings profile (to 1.4m deep) indicating the absence of physical and chemical constraints to their development. Chemical changes to the near-surface tailings profile were limited to a reduced salinity beneath the canopies. No evidence of C or N accumulation was found. Effective stabilization of the near-surface tailings materials was attributed to a combination of litter layer formation, root stabilization, settling and some limited formation of structural aggregates. Beyond this stabilization, pedogenetic effects must be considered incipient.

Item ID: 24654
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-0-9804185-6-9
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2013 05:06
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050207 Environmental Rehabilitation (excl Bioremediation) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960508 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Mining Environments @ 100%
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