Abstract: A 36-km road built in 1961 between Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta), Northern Territory, Australia had seriously deteriorated by the 1980s. A newly aligned road, which was ecologically located and avoided sensitive Aboriginal sites, was completed early in 1991. The old road was rehabilitated by deep ripping, filling with imported sand and topsoil and by grading logs and windrows1 over the new surface. This paper reports on the effectiveness of the rehabilitation technique used in reinstating vegetation over 8 years and considers whether this rehabilitation aim was met. Plant colonisation and succession were monitored on 15 paired plots, one in the rehabilitated road and the other in the adjacent undisturbed habitat (with four exceptions) and also on the windrows. Sites at eight creek crossings and those subject to fire and rabbit activity were also monitored. Different landscape units responded in different ways to the rehabilitation. Herbaceous species from imported sand plain fill and top soil eventually dominated the road where they were introduced and were likely to persist in most areas because of local recruitment. The revegetation of the road has stabilised the old road surface as observed by the reduced erosion although succession did not always approach the reference site communities because of a greater resemblance to the Simpson Land System. Over the 8 years of monitoring considerable changes in vegetation occurred and are probably continuing. Only the road sites in the Simpson Land System approached the condition of the adjacent undisturbed vegetation because the vegetation of the other two land systems became closer to that of the Simpson Land System rather than to that of the surrounding vegetation. It is recommended that the introduced Buffel grass, known to alter landscape-level processes by reducing native herbaceous species and increasing risk of high intensity wildfire, which is most evident at creek crossings, should be controlled. Recommendations are made for improved management.
Low, W. A., McNally, A., Davies, B. K., Greenslade, Penelope, 2012, Changes in vegetation over nine years after rehabilitating a linear feature in Australia’s arid zone, Volume:34, Journal Article, viewed 12 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=2642.