Local provenance in rehabilitation of degraded landscapes: a case study from the Hawkesbury–Nepean catchment, Australia



Throughout Australia thousands of volunteers are engaged in Landcare projects that should help rehabilitate degraded landscapes. Many of these projects involve tree planting, but their seed is not necessarily of local provenance. Based on a survey of 85 Landcare groups working in the Hawkesbury–Nepean catchment, data were collected about Landcare groups’ knowledge of their seed source, understanding of local provenance and the ecosystem in which they were planting trees and the source of funding for their projects. The findings from the study indicate that about one in five (21%) of the groups surveyed that introduced plant material were not aware of local provenance issues. Indirect indications were that a large number of Landcare groups state-wide may be doing more harm than good to the landscape while trying to rehabilitate it. The data also showed that one in seven (13%) of the groups funded by the Australian Government through the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) had limited awareness of local provenance issues. With millions of dollars being spent on ‘works on the ground’, it would be prudent to allocate some funds to document and monitor current Landcare activities, so that the environmental outcomes can be quantified and more effective Landcare policies can be developed in the future.