Benefits of adopting seed-based technologies for rehabilitation in the mining sector: A Pilbara perspective

Todd Erickson, Miriam Munoz-Rojas, Olga Alexandrovna Kildisheva, Brad Stokes, Stephen White, Joanne Heyes, Emma Louise Dalziell, Wolfgang Lewandrowski, Jeremy James, Matthew Madsen, Shane Robert Turner, David John Merritt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The use of native plant seeds is fundamental to large-scale rehabilitation and the re-establishment of self-sustaining ecosystems after high-impact mining activity has ceased. However, many of the biological attributes of seeds are often overlooked in large-scale rehabilitation programs. Multi-disciplinary, long-term research collaborations are required to improve seed-based mine rehabilitation. In this paper, we review the steps that BHP Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO), a large iron ore mining company that operates in the Pilbara bioregion of north-west Western Australia, has taken over the past 9 years to ensure continuous improvement in rehabilitation procedures. We introduce the mining activities that WAIO undertake in the Pilbara, and emphasise specific examples of how research findings have led to incremental improvements in the seed management cycle, growth media management and mine rehabilitation practices. Specifically, we outline how the implementation of structured seed collection and storage programs has created the capacity to maintain high-quality seed stocks sufficient for 3–5 years of future rehabilitation. Research has documented the prevalence of seed dormancy in the flora (>70% of 105 species examined produce dormant seeds), with physical and physiological classes of dormancy most commonly encountered. We discuss the development of seed-treatments such as optimised wet-heat and dry after-ripening that have increased the germination capacity of many previously dormant seed batches. In addition, we highlight how seed enhancement technologies, such as hydro-priming with smoke-derived germination stimulants and polymer seed coating, and a greater understanding of the biological and physical limitations present in the growing environment, have vastly improved seedling emergence performance under field conditions for key framework Triodia species. Ongoing industry support (e.g. construction of a purpose-built rain manipulation shelter) has ensured research in the Pilbara will continue to unpack and resolve the complex challenges associated with seed regeneration of biodiverse native plant communities after mining.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-660
JournalAustralian Journal of Botany
Volume65
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2017

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seed
seeds
Western Australia
iron ore
iron
Triodia
germination
seed dressings
after-ripening
seed dormancy
smoke
seed treatment
seed quality
Spermatophytina
seedling emergence
rehabilitation
seed collection
dormancy
plant communities
polymers

Cite this

Erickson, Todd ; Munoz-Rojas, Miriam ; Kildisheva, Olga Alexandrovna ; Stokes, Brad ; White, Stephen ; Heyes, Joanne ; Dalziell, Emma Louise ; Lewandrowski, Wolfgang ; James, Jeremy ; Madsen, Matthew ; Turner, Shane Robert ; Merritt, David John. / Benefits of adopting seed-based technologies for rehabilitation in the mining sector : A Pilbara perspective. In: Australian Journal of Botany. 2017 ; Vol. 65, No. 8. pp. 646-660.
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Benefits of adopting seed-based technologies for rehabilitation in the mining sector : A Pilbara perspective. / Erickson, Todd; Munoz-Rojas, Miriam; Kildisheva, Olga Alexandrovna; Stokes, Brad ; White, Stephen ; Heyes, Joanne ; Dalziell, Emma Louise; Lewandrowski, Wolfgang; James, Jeremy ; Madsen, Matthew ; Turner, Shane Robert; Merritt, David John.

In: Australian Journal of Botany, Vol. 65, No. 8, 30.11.2017, p. 646-660.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Munoz-Rojas, Miriam

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