Worrall, RC, Spain, AV & Tibbett, M 2008, 'Establishment of Native Tree Species on Coal Tailings — Lessons from Ebenezer Mine, Queensland, Australia', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett, I Weiersbye & P Dye (eds), Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure
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Two experiments were conducted to determine the capacities of three salt and inundation tolerant tree
species (Casuarina glauca, Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Melaleuca quinquenervia) to grow on saline-
sodic tailings materials, to stabilize their surfaces, and to induce pedogenetic change in the underlying
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 coarse roots were distributed throughout the upper tailings profile (to 1.4 m 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.
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