10 May 2023

Seed collection a key ingredient to rehabilitation

| Matt Nicholls
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And it couldn’t be done without the help of Traditional Owners.

The seed collection program is once again in full swing in Cape York with Traditional Owners from Aurukun, Mapoon, Napranum and Weipa paid to collect seeds for Rio Tinto’s rehabilitation team.

“We collect around 60 different species of plants and grasses each year that get planted into the soil to rehabilitate the mined areas,” said Lachy Johnson, superintendent of land and rehabilitation.

“In total, about 2500kg to 3000kg of seeds are collected by Traditional Owners and used to restore the targeted sites.”

Mr Johnson said Rio Tinto Weipa engaged the services of long-time Cape York resident Neale Dahl and his company Cape York Environmental Services to deliver the seed collection program.

Mr Dahl was a former Superintendent at Rio Tinto Weipa and has been a contractor for 13 years.

“I travel to the communities once a fortnight to collect the seeds from the Traditional Owners, let them know what seeds we need more of and what we have enough of,” he said.

“The best part of the program is that it has been designed in collaboration with Traditional Owners so they have control over how the land is rehabilitated and with what plants and grasses.

“It’s paid work and we would have around 200 people in the Western Cape collecting seeds throughout the year.”

Anna Horwood, rehabilitation and closure advisor, said: “The relationships Neale has with the communities and the pickers can’t be understated.

“It’s so important to maintain that connection to Country. The seed is collected from Country and then returned to Country.”

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