Land Management Partnership in Australia
Breaks New Ground
In an Australian state that has retained less than 1% of its
original grassland, an award-winning partnership between Alcoa and Greening
Australia is implementing a strategic approach to managing Alcoa land that
includes the country’s largest-ever grassland restoration project.
a name taken from the Aboriginal people’s Wathaurong language, the Moolapio
partnership is conserving, enhancing, and restoring the flora and fauna on 500
hectares (1,235 acres) of land adjacent to Alcoa’s Point Henry smelter in the
state of Victoria.
Commenced in 2006 with a US$960,000 Alcoa investment,
the partnership is in the initial three-year phase of what is anticipated to be
a 15-year project. After only 12 months, Moolapio earned the United Nations
Association of Australia’s World Environment Day Award for best specific
The outstanding natural features of the
Moolapio site at Point Henry and the long-term commitment by Alcoa are enabling
real conservation and landscape change, including ecologically rigorous
planning, science-based restoration practice and evaluation, and a diverse
approach to community engagement.
“This is a groundbreaking relationship
on many levels,” said Anne-Marie McCarthy, Moolapio team leader for Greening Australia, which has been partnering with
Alcoa on environmental projects across the country since 1982. “The high level
of engagement and support from Alcoa employees—from the operators in the
potrooms up through management—has been quite unique. For an industrial firm to
invest voluntarily such a large amount of money on an environmental project is
pretty groundbreaking. And, the project itself is groundbreaking because the
grassland reestablishment we are undertaking has never been done before in terms
of the size and methods used.”
The grass ecosystem restoration work is
based on an innovative technique developed by Dr. Paul Gibson Roy to replace
agricultural farmland with complex systems of indigenous grassland species. The
main grassland restoration method being used in the Moolapio project is scraping
10 centimeters (four inches) off the top of the soil and sowing grass seeds into
what remains. This method eliminates weed seeds and reduces the amount of
chemicals that have to be used for weed control. Around 300 hectares of
indigenous grassland will be restored over 15 years.
program will improve the condition of the site’s extensive coastal wetlands that
provide important habitat for a range of fauna, including migratory birds of
international significance. Other major components of the land management
strategy include coastal saltmarsh management and community engagement and
training. The vision for the area also includes a complex that will become a
center for restoration work, scientific research, and community engagement.
Through early 2009, the partnership has achieved the following major
- Reestablished four hectares (10 acres) of indigenous grassland using
locally collected seed;
- Rehabilitated five hectares (12 acres) of wetland area;
- Planted more than 25,000 plants and reduced noxious vermin and pest plants
over 575 hectares (1,420 acres);
- Written and implemented a curriculum-based schools program with secondary
and primary schools; and
- Introduced accredited training in conservation and land management to
local community members.
The partnership has also gained recognition from local companies that are
now requesting similar work be undertaken on their sites based on the results
gained at Pt. Henry.