part of the solution

investing in peel-harvey waterways
A new sustainable land use research project aimed at protecting wetlands and waterways in the Peel-Harvey catchment of Western Australia is underway, thanks to a US$355,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation.

The research, being managed by Greening Australia and led by the University of Western Australia, is investigating ways to reduce phosphorus from entering waterways through the innovative use of vegetation.

The Alcoa Foundation grant is a part of a US$4 million worldwide ‘Advancing Sustainability Research: Innovative Partnerships for Actionable Solutions’ initiative that is funding 10 sustainability research projects in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Russia and the United States.

Greening Australia’s National Partnership Manager Grey Mackay said the research is important because phosphorus in waterways can lead to algal blooms, which often result in fish kills.

“With the Peel-Harvey catchment being the most rapidly expanding urban area in Australia, new ways to manage our land will be required if agricultural profitability, quality of life and environmental health are to be maintained in this fragile area.

“Previous analysis has already identified phosphorous as the primary nutrient which must be targeted to improve water quality, and this research is specifically looking to uncover how and when phosphorous moves from paddocks into waterways and how vegetation can be manipulated or used strategically to reduce that phosphorous movement.

“In particular we hope to find out whether traditional pasture plants, perennial plants with pasture potential including natives, and native vegetation can absorb phosphorus at the time of the opening rains.

“Researchers hope to develop land use management plans which will ease nutrient loads in the water and allow for sustainable agricultural development that’s aligned with conservation priorities,” Mr Mackay said.

This project also aims to improve knowledge of soil nutrient and hydrological processes in key landscape types, and how these impact plant growth and the uptake of phosphorous. Researchers will develop management tools for farmers, as well as tools that local government can incorporate into future planning to ensure continued sustainable management of the area.

Alcoa’s General Manager of Corporate Affairs Brian Doy said Alcoa, as a member of the Peel-Harvey community, is committed to finding solutions to environmental challenges.

“Alcoa has a long history of striving to address environmental issues in partnership with community organisations, government, and academic institutions - and this research partnership is another example of that.”

Read more about Alcoa’s full partnership with Greening Australia.  And stay tuned for more details about our research partnership with Greening Australia in Victoria, to be featured in an upcoming edition.

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Federal Member for Canning Don Randall planting a tree to mark the launch of the research project with Greening Australia's Martin von Kaschke.

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The many natural resource management groups working towards the common goal of improving water quality in the Peel-Harvey catchment were recognised during a celebration event at the Alcoa Landcare Education Centre in Yarloop recently.