Hybrid red gums aim to suck on salt testing revegetation for farm forestry

Catchment Manager (DLWC) Paul Hutchins (L) and grower Ian Kemmis (N) inspect 12-month-old Saltgrow hybrid gums at 'Woomahringollg' ill the Kyeamba Valley, Ilear Wagga Wagga ill south-eastern NSW.

PLANTING OF salt-tolerant hybrid river red gums is part of a bold attempt to combat the increasing problem of dryland salinity on the South-West Slopes of NSW.

River red gums (Eucalytpus camaldulellsis) crossed with flooded gum (E. grandis) and Tasmanian bluegum (E. globulus) have been planted on highly saline discharge areas as part of a Saltgrow trial under the CSIRO-initiated Heartlands Farm Forestry project. The river red gum provides salt-tolerant characteristics while the other two species improve the timber qualities.

While Saltgrow is monitoring the impact of the hybrid gums, it is still a bit too early to say how effective they will be in tackling salinity.

The Heartlands project involves the widescale planting of native forest trees in selected catchments in NSW and Victoria. In the first year of the project in the Kyeamba Valley, the research team has planted more than 20,000 native trees on three farm forestry properties covering 25 ha, according to Project Manager Cherie White of Kyeamba Landcare. The main native species planted include river red gum, silver wattle, iron bark, hickory wattle, river she oak, sugar gum, spotted gum and southern mahogany.

"In the second .year of the project we are aiming to plant 80,000 native forest species on six properties and to increase the area of farm forestry to 100 ha," said Ms White.

The Kyeamba Heartlands project focuses on establishing farm forestry and helping make it viable on low rainfall (550-700 mm) properties. It involves collaboration between the Murray- Riverina Farm Fore stry program, the Department of Land and Water Conservation, CSIRO, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission and Kyeamba Landcare Group.

Contact: Ms Cherie White 02 6947 0206