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Dalwallinu Acacia Symposium: 13–14 July 2001

The Conservation and Utilisation Potential of Australian Dryland Acacias

Scientific Program

Conservation Science Western AustraliaThis Symposium aimed to explore the role of Acacias in helping solve some of the serious problem currently confronting many rural communities and ecosystems, both within Australia and abroad. Many areas of southern Australia are currently experiencing serious land degradation and increasing salinity, caused primarily by clearing of native vegetation for agriculture. Acacias may have an important role to play in reversing this cycle of land deterioration.

The proceedings of this two day Symposium have now been published as an issue of the Department of Conservation and Land Management’s journal, Conservation Science Western Australia (vol. 4, no. 3, Dec. 2002) and is available for purchase at a cost of $22 (plus postage) from the Shire of Dalwallinu (contact: dallyshire@wn.com.au). Pdf versions of the individual published papers are available, free of charge (see below). Note: Talk titles given below are those delivered at the Symposium, these sometimes differed slightly from those given in the published papers.

The Dalwallinu community most generously hosted this Symposium and provided an excellent social program to complement the scientific meeting. For further details visit the Dalwallinu website. Information on Dalwallinu’s involvement with Acacia is available elsewhere on WorldWideWattle.

SESSION 1, 13 July 2001: Systematics and Conservation.

Convenor - Dr Stephen Hopper, CEO Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Kings Park

Systematic research in Acacia is critical for sound utilisation and conservation. The job is far from complete. There are important practical and economic reasons for supporting the proposed submission to retain the name Acacia for the largest group in the genus as it currently stands—the 900 or so named Australian species.

Molecular systematics has revealed unexpected levels of genetic variation in both rare and common wattles. This finding has an important practical implication: the principle of using local seed wherever possible to maximise genetic and biodiversity conservation.

There are many rare and endangered species of Acacia whose biology and ecology have scarcely been investigated. Some are old, relictual species with no close relatives; others are recently evolved and have close sister species. Much more research on their biology is required to ensure their conservation. Also, one must not lose sight of the need to conserve genetic variation in common species. In the meantime, the most important conservation action is to care for and value every remnant of native vegetation. These are biological jewels—literally, the source of seeds for the future.

Praise for the prickly. Choosing the right local wattles when revegetating an area can help to create habitat for wildlife and control pest insects. Real biodiversity benefits can be generated with a little extra effort and sound local knowledge.

B.R. Maslin: Is systematics critical for effective utilisation and conservation of Acacia? (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

M. Byrne: The role of genetics in the conservation and utilisation of Acacia. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

J.T. Miller, R.A. Andrew and B.R. Maslin: Towards an understanding of variation within the Mulga complex (Acacia aneura and relatives) using nuclear DNA techniques. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

M.L. Buist, D.J. Coates and C.J. Yates: Rarity and threat in relation to the conservation of Acacia in Western Australia. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

B.M.J. Hussey: Wattle I plant for wildlife? (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

SESSION 2: Commercial and other applications.

Convenor - Mr R. Edmondson, Chairman, Soil and Land Conservation Council of WA

There has been encouraging progress in research as applied to the screening of Acacia and its role in the fight against land degradation, in particular dryland salinity. It is clear that acacias have an important role in the development of sustainable farming systems. Gains can be made both in agricultural systems and as a source of food for humans.

It is time to place this evidence before primary producers, in particular, and the wider community in general. Neither group relates readily to scientific papers, but there is now sufficient evidence to warrant setting up demonstrations at strategic sites in the agricultural regions promoting the advantages of acacias.

What better site than the Dalwallinu Shire, with its large number of native wattles? It is important to let farmers see the potential and methods of establishment, as they respond to this kind of presentation.

The Dalwallinu Environmental Interpretative Centre proposed for establishment in Dalwallinu would complement the Shire's strong focus on tourism. It could focus on scientific information and how it interfaces with the community.

The issue of protecting road verge vegetation was raised with passion, and it is clear that the many attempts to educate authorities on this need have not been effective in all cases. Over many years there have been reports and recommendations on the value of road verge vegetation-in many cases the last remnants of some species are found in these sites. The Department of Conservation and Land Management supports a Road Verge Conservation group. I suggest that this Symposium does likewise.

J. Bartle, D. Cooper, G. Olsen and J. Carslake: Acacia species as large scale crop plants in the Australian wheatbelt. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

D.S. Seigler: Potential of secondary plant products in Acacia. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

R.A. Dynes and A.C. Schlink: Livestock potential of Australian wattle species. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

J.E. Brand: Review of the influence of Acacia species on Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) establishment in Western Australia. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

K. Wickens and M Pennacchio: Biological activity of traditional medicinal Acacia species used by indigenous Australians. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

G. Brand and L. Sweedman: Horticultural potential of Acacia. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

C. Tate: Tourism potential of Acacia, with particular reference to Dalwallinu. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

SESSION 3, 14 July 2001: Seed for human food.

Convenor - Mr Stephen Midgley, Portfolio Manager, Tree Improvement and Genetic Resources, CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products, Canberra

Strong links and strategic alliances must be maintained between growers, marketers and government to ensure that emerging business and management systems remain coherent. Successful marketing depends on quality, pricing and consistency of supply.

The Symposium has shown that there is a great wealth and diversity of information on Acacia conservation and utilisation both in Australia and overseas. Successful use of this information will benefit future use of Acacias. There is a pressing need to collect, collate and disseminate available information, associated with a need to conserve, assemble and acknowledge traditional, indigenous knowledge.

There is a need to develop appropriate agronomic techniques to underpin broadscale Acacia planting, particularly how it will relate to established agriculture. Harvesting technology (do we modify the plant or the machinery?), understanding root architecture, spacing and competition with other crops are some issues highlighted for further research.

Wider commercial development of acacia seed as human food will require further work on nutritional (and anti-nutritional) profiles, toxicology and food safety, use for starch, gums, resin etc.

Those using and promoting acacias will have to be mindful of the potential of acacias to become weeds. Some characteristics that contribute to the success of acacias present a potential for weediness.

Wattle Seed Dreaming: Video presentation.

P. Latz: Traditional use of Acacia by indigenous Australians. (Abstract)

A. Rinaudot, P. Patel and L.A.J. Thomson: Potential of Australian acacias in combating hunger in semi-arid lands. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

M.W. McDonald, B.R. Maslin and L.A.J. Thomson: Australian dryland Acacias with edible seeds. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

A. Hele: Issues in the commercialisation of wattle seed for food. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).

G. Olsen: Broadscale production of wattle seed to address salinity: potential and constraints. (Abstract)
Conservation Science WA paper (PDF).


Page last updated: Thursday 15 December 2016