Dreamtime in Gondwanaland

Dreamtime in Gondwanaland

A huge environmental project in south-western Australia is under way whose vision is to restore vast swathes of lost territory to rich bush and lush forest.

LET’S GET Charlie Darwin back into this landscape!” Keith Bradby has just pulled over to the edge of a red-dirt road to show me a remarkable plant that has characteristics of two species of grevillea, which is a widespread Australian botanical family with many members.

One species can be found a few dozen kilometres to the west of where we are standing, the other a few dozen to the east. But the one Bradby is holding does not quite fit either, and seems to be developing into something completely new and different.

“This is evolution in action,” he says enthusiastically, “but if the plant communities are no longer connected across the country, evolution can’t happen any more.” Bradby is the co-ordinator for the Gondwana Link, a massive environmental project that aims to re-connect and restore wet forests, mountain ranges, flat scrubland and arid woodlands across eight distinct ecosystems and 1,000km in south-west Australia.

The link gets its name from Gondwanaland, the ancient composite continent that included Australia, South American, southern Africa and India before it began to drift apart – about 120 million years ago.

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