WOMADelaide’s Sustainable Approach & The Womad Forest

womadelaide 2016 in the Botanic Park with the Cat Empire

If you have been following along you will know how passionate I am about WOMADelaide. The Recycled Interiors team will be reporting from the weekend, so stay tuned for lost of fabulous stories and pictures! Not only is it a heady blend of world music, dance and art; delicious food; experiences and speakers – but over the past decade, a donation from event goers of up to an additional $1 per ticket has established the WOMAD Forest.
To reduce its ecological footprint the WOMADelaide festival organisers have taken important steps to ensure the event is environmentally friendly. The festival has reduced its energy consumption and adopted environmentally friendly principles – what emissions cannot be avoided are then offset. What’s more they are offset with a native plant corridor… turning waste into wildlife.

Womadelaide 2016 programme and events

Maxwell and James a few years ago

Since 1992, the WOMADelaide Foundation has had the privilege (as have the festival goers), of hiring Botanic Park from the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, which purchased the land for the park in 1866. Mr Recycled and I were married under the beautiful old Moreton Bay Fig Trees in the the magnificent 34-hectare arboretum of several hundred trees, some of which are over a century old, vast lawns and endangered flora. Just being in the park and the village takes you to a place of peace and happiness. The atmosphere is unique – you will not experience this at any other festival.
WOMADelaide takes great pride in doing as much as possible to protect the Park (extreme weather conditions notwithstanding) and to return Botanic Park back to the Gardens in near-perfect condition. It is the responsibility of all of us who spend the weekend under the trees, to make sure we impact as little as possible on the environment but the team at WOMADadelaide make it easy for us to do. In 2013, WOMADelaide was proudly the Winner of the Partnerships Project in the Premier’s Natural Resources Management Award for their relationship with Greening Australia.

Womadelaide 2016 programme and eventsWaste Minimisation

Sustainable waste management is an important part of the festival. Working in partnership with SITA and Jeffries, Adelaide Green Clean provides a ‘zero waste’ solution to WOMADelaide by diverting waste away from landfill and into a sustainable pathway. Only compostable and recyclable wastes are produced by festival goers. All cups, plates, crockery, serviettes and any items sold in packaging at WOMADelaide are fully compostable and segmented recycling and organic waste bins will be present throughout the park. All organic waste generated at WOMADelaide is mulched by Jeffries, treated for composting and delivered back to and used by the Botanic Gardens. Jeffries provides this mulch free of charge.

WOMADelaide-forest (1)Greening Australia | The WOMADelaide Forest

Australia’s largest environmental organisation, Greening Australia works with WOMADelaide to offset the ecological footprint of the festival, with $2 from every WOMADelaide ticket purchased invested in native biodiverse tree plantings.
Greening Australia with the support of Canopy, has been growing the WOMADelaide Forest on land in regional South Australia, around 5km from Langhorne Creek, near the Coorong and Lower Lakes. The WOMADelaide Forest is home to many rare and threatened bird species including the Hooded Robin and Diamond Firetail. In 2008, 17 species of bird were recorded and by 2014 this number had grown to 70 species.
More than 70,000 native trees have been planted across 65 hectares, offsetting to date 16,250 tonnes of carbon emissions. The plantings include species of:
Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha)
Wallowa (Acacia calamifolia)
Sticky Hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa ssp. spatulata)
Here is what has been done so far with the Womad Forest:
– Over 70,000 trees have been planted on 65 hectares of land to create the Womad Forest.
– That’s >1,000 stems in the ground per hectare (the amount required to meet carbon accounting standards within the Mallee plant community where the land is located).
– In addition to these large trees; shrubs, grasses and understory have also been established to create a diverse native bushland – important for the natural regeneration of the site as a woodland (not a monoculture plantation!)
To date, this is enough to offset 16,250 tonnes of carbon, exceeding the 15,040 tonnes required to offset emissions generated by the festivals 2006-2015.
In addition to the carbon sequestered by biodiverse native plantings, a range of other environmental, economic and cultural benefits come from the development over time. The trees provide homes for many of our favourite native animals, many of which are declining due to landscape fragmentation and modification. Native plantings that are resilient to climate change, will continue to provide other ecosystem benefits, like pollination, flood and erosion mitigation and microclimate moderation. These services are increasingly recognised for their valuable contribution to sustainable production in agricultural landscapes.

flags ofwomad 9

Native Revegetation

Greening Australia, with the support of Canopy, guarantees that every tree planted for carbon offset will remain in the ground (and in South Australia) for over 100 years.
–  All species chosen are local provenance stock grown at the Greening Australia nursery by community volunteers using locally sourced seed. Greening Australia provides ongoing management of the site to ensure the plants are maintained. This includes watering and replacing any seedlings required, ensuring the carbon offset is secure.
–  All plantings and revegetation use locally collected seed from remnant native mallee vegetation, thereby building biodiversity in the region.
The Womad Forest – Site Timeline
The timeline for this partnership is seen as a ‘lifelong’ relationship, as the reforestation will be enjoyed for well over a hundred years to come. Below is a very rough guide about how the joint project will benefit the environment in the future. both short-term and long-term:
Year 1: Grazing pressure is reduced on the site which means the native seed bank can germinate and grazed native plants can grow to their full potential. Creatures who live in the soil, such as worms, spiders and ants increase with reduced grazing and soil disturbance. Direct seeding and hand planting of germinated seedlings are initially established.
Years 2 – 5: Seedlings have a large growth period and start to out-compete weed species and increase fauna shelter. Revegetation starts to flower and set seed,which brings insects and birds. The increase in grass height following grazing removal allows grassland birds such as Quails to nest on site and allows reptiles sheltered passage through the site.
Years 6-10: Short-lived species such as Wattles complete their life cycle and begin to die, adding fallen timber which is important habitat for many reptiles and insects. The increase in reptiles and insects allows for a great diversity of birds which rely on these animals as their food source. Termites feeding on dead wood allow echidnas to colonise the site.
Years 10 – 30: Second generation seedlings begin to emerge between planted rows and the tree canopy begins to cover the entire site. The canopy cover encourages further colonisation by small birds and also allows for many light sensitive small plants such as Orchids to colonise the site. Large trees (Eucalyptus and Sheoaks) attain a height suitable for large birds of prey such as eagles and kestrels to roost. Large trees develop crevices and nooks in their bark allowing native microbats to colonise the site.
Years 30-100: Longer-lived species such as Sheoaks and Tea-tree complete their lifecycle, creating hollow logs for parrots and larger bats.
Year 100+: As the site fully matures the Eucalypts will develop large hollows suitable for many birds and mammals. Some patches of shrubs may naturally die out and give way to native grasslands.

Annual Actions:

Now that the majority of the plants have been established, funds are used to deliver the following important actions on an annual basis:
– Carbon audit undertaken utilising actual event figures
– Site maintenance & bushland monitoring program by Greening Australia’s environmental services team. Works include exclusion of kangaroos, weed control, fence line maintenance and reseeding, hand planting in required areas to maintain the bushland’s integrity, tree guarding and watering in drought conditions.
The second stage of planting & direct seeding will start next season to commence the offset of future Womad events at sites in South Australia. Alternatively, the Womad Forest can continue to be soundly managed locally & a percentage of funds can be diverted to innovative new carbon offset activities managed by Canopy. Providing a ‘global’ element to the offset partnership.
This is such a wonderful project which just enhances the experience of the WOMADelaide event. Are you going? I am looking forward to sharing the weekend with you so follow us on Facebook, Instagram and the blog for updates across the weekend, as well as post event wrap up.

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