Authors: Worrall, RC; Spain, AV; Tibbett, M

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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, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 739-750,

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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 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 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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