The potential effects of climate change on rehabilitation success are poorly understood. For the south west, of WA, one possibility is that rehabilitation may be hindered due to higher temperatures and lower rainfall. Bauxite mine pits in WA’s Jarrah forest have been actively rehabilitated for more than 20 years. Researchers at UWA have examined a long term data set of seedling establishment collected during rehabilitation over a similar period. Astron was contracted to run a series of statistical analyses in order to differentiate the effects of management practices and climatic variation on seedling establishment.
Astron’s numerical ecologists employed a number of analytical methods including General Additive Models (GAMs), regression trees and Structural Equation Models (SEM) to examine the effect of climatic variables and management practices on rehabilitation success. Final results suggested that management practices were more influential to seedling establishment than were climatic variables. Despite decreasing over the period, rainfall was still reliable, leading to consistent seedling success.
These results support the suggestion that the challenges of climate change may be overcome to some extent with sound rehabilitation practices and planning. This work was published in Journal of Ecology.