The golden wattle, Australia’s floral emblem, is an ideal candidate for rehabilitating mine sites, according to new research from the University of South Australia.

Most planted trees and herbs remove heavy metals from the soil. But these heavy metals accumulate in the plant, spreading to the worms, birds, and other wildlife that feed off the plants.

Acacia pycnantha (golden wattle). Credit: istockphoto

Acacia pycnantha (golden wattle). Credit: istockphoto

However, wattle is different.

“Wattle trees take up very little copper. That means the majority of the on-site copper remains in the soil,” according to Ramkrishna Nirola, who worked at an abandoned copper mine to examine the suitability of 26 tree species for environmental remediation.

A small amount of copper is absorbed but it becomes bound up within the leaf structure, so it is unavailable for uptake by worms and other invertebrates.

The potential environmental impacts are significant.

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Australia wastes 7.3 million tonnes of food a year, with Australian households responsible for dumping more than half of that: about 4.1 million tonnes or around 9kg of food from every home, every week.

But for the first time, we know exactly what we waste, how it is wasted, and where it goes.

Researchers from the University of South Australia have traced the cycle of food waste in a three-year study looking at the economic, environmental and psychological modelling of food waste.

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A new land management tool using Aboriginal knowledge

Ngan’gi speakers know it’s time to look for freshwater crocodile eggs when the red kapok trees near the Northern Territory’s Daly River burst into flower.

This can occur at a different time each year, but the environmental link is solid.

A Darwin-based scientist has converted this link and other intimate Aboriginal knowledge of Australia’s landscape into an environmental management tool.

CSIRO’s Emma Woodward worked with Aboriginal elders as part of the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge research program to develop six seasonal calendars from six different language groups from the Northern Territory and Western Australia. [click to continue…]