Habitat loss and degradation is the most important cause of species decline and extinction in Australia. The biodiversity of South Australia’s temperate agricultural regions is in overall decline and a range of restoration actions are needed to halt further decline.

Many native plants will only regenerate in specific soil types and landscapes that they have adapted to over millions of years. Effective restoration planning requires a good understanding of soils, topography, geology and hydrology.

Soil factors to assess for successful restoration include soil types, soil fertility, pH, salinity, slope and aspect. If soil condition has changed over time the site may not now support the original ‘pre-European’ vegetation type. Soils nutrient rich from agricultural fertilisers may be less suitable for restoration of species adapted to nutrient-poor soils. Soil at risk of erosion when ground cover is removed can affect choice of revegetation methods (e.g. direct seeding is less successful on eroding sands and cracking clays than other soils).

Very compacted or rocky soil may require ripping or avoidance. Heavy clay or impermeable subsoils can indicate potential for waterlogging and affect access for vehicles.

Uneven soil surface can affect machinery use although uneven surface may provide sites for seed capture, successful microsites for seed germination and plant growth. In early ecosystem establishment, the focus should be on soil stability, cover and appropriate species mix.

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Soils and habitat restoration