Initiative to help koalas

SIMPLY placing water tube tree guards that act as eskies around seedlings may aid the rehabilitation effort for the koala population.

Although it may seem simple, the invention is crucial to Rio Tinto’s mine site rehabilitation strategies and to enhance koala habitat.

A trial is now underway at Rio Tinto’s new mine site at Clermont with 210 seedling coolibahs planted – a favourite food tree for the local koalas.

Rio Tinto ecologists, working at University of Queensland’s Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, believe the water tubes will give the seedlings a better chance of survival and in turn grow the koala population.

Koala Venture researcher Dr Sean FitzGibbon said: “We hope this will give the small trees a much better chance of surviving the transplanting period, and establishing a strong root system.

“The water tube tree guards are a bit like putting an esky around each seedling, as the product stores water in the walls of the tree guard, which is drip-fed to the seedling for 16 days post-planting.”

Designed to improve early rehabilitation at Rio Tinto’s newest operation, Clermont Mine, the special tree-planting initiative is part of Koala Venture, a 22-year research partnership between UQ and Rio Tinto.

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