Embedding experiments in restoration projects

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Speaking at a SOWN seminar in October, Dr John Dwyer from the University of Queensland encouraged bushcarers to conduct experiments to get the best out of our bushcare sites.

John said one important reason to gather evidence through experimentation was to avoid making the same mistakes over and over.

He said many bushcarers already experiment.

“By formalising this experimentation we might be able to help improve your approaches,” John said.

The seminar heard about a paper called “Better left alone: Trying to control pasture grasses in untended rainforest plantings incurs multiple costs and delivers few benefits”.

Conducted in the Oxley Creek catchment, this experiment involved 20 plots which were revegetated. Ten plots were untreated and in the remaining ten plots weeds were removed by various methods.

The authors found that “grass removal is not an effective management strategy in untended plantings due to the heightened risk of sapling mortality, coupled with the considerable labour and material costs.”

John encouraged SOWN members to think about what do you want to know.

“Formulate this as a clear question, expectation or hypothesis,” he said. Then start designing your experiment.

Go to this PDF link of John’s talk to find out more about how to design an experiment.

SOWN President Renée McGlashan acknowledged Dr John Dwyer and honours student Hannah Rigney from the UQ School of Biological Sciences who gave the presentation.

“SOWN would like to thank John and Hannah for their sharing their time and expertise. A big thank to The Gap Football Club for providing their venue for the evening – a wonderful community space,” she said.

Dr John Dwyer speaking at the seminar

Honours student Hannah Rigney speaking at the seminar.