Eraring plant nursery: applying indigenous techniques to site revegetation

The onsite nursery at Origin’s Eraring Power Station is playing an important role in supporting rehabilitation at the site, while also providing training opportunities for Indigenous employees as part of our Stretch RAP commitments.

The team at the Eraring nursery grow plants from seed harvested locally and use these to regenerate sections of the 1,100 hectares occupied by the Eraring Power Station beside Lake Macquarie.

There are around 110 native species on site and the team from the nursery collect seeds from these plants, propagate seedlings, and raise tube stock for planting. The team is also responsible for weed and pest control, clearing of nominated areas, and bushfire management.

We currently have five local Indigenous employees at the nursery, including three trainees who are studying for their Certificate III in Indigenous Land Management. While the trainees are learning modern methods in their studies, their knowledge of traditional Indigenous land management practices is proving to be invaluable.

Many of the native plants on site have different life cycles, with some seed pods requiring fire or cold weather to release seeds. To help ‘trick’ the pods, the team employs a mix of traditional and modern techniques such as smoking to replicate a bushfire or using a fridge to make them cool. Once the pods have released their seeds, they’re labelled and then stored in a seed bank in the fridge for longevity.

Use of recycled materials is also a big part of the nursery’s operations. Ash from the power generation process is used for drainage on the greenhouse floors, while seaweed harvested from the power station’s inlet canal screens is used as fertilizer, to make potting mix, and improve soil.

Tony Phillips, Origin’s Group Manager Operations at Eraring, said the team is committed to developing a healthy ecosystem through the protection and reintroduction of native plant species.

“The team planted around 2,000 seedlings during FY2020, and estimate they’ll propagate and plant over 2,000 seedlings over the next 12 months. In time, we hope to build up stock and capacity so the nursery can develop into a viable business that can service other revegetation projects in the Hunter region, particularly mine rehabilitation works as well our own on site needs.”

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