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Shea new Mallee CEO

FORMER Department of Conservation and Land Management executive director Syd Shea has been appointed chairman and executive director of the Oil Mallee Company of Australia.

Dr Shea retired from CALM after 15 years with the organisation. In July he was appointed professor of environmental management at Notre Dame University.

“The wheatbelt of WA is crying out for commercially viable tree crops to soak up the excess water that is causing saline water tables to rise, destroying millions of hectares of productive farmland, degrading unique conservation assets and putting rural infrastructure and towns at risk,” Dr Shea said.

“While the most obvious damage from salinity occurs in farmland, recent studies had shown that expansion of saturated land in wheatbelt valleys will increase runoff causing more frequent flooding, higher flood peaks and potentially severe impacts along rivers all the way to the coast.

“A variety of perennial plants can be used to combat salinity but mallee eucalyptus were probably one of the best options because they occurred naturally in the wheatbelt, grow rapidly, resist grazing, can be harvested regularly and can produce a range of products using all parts of the plant.”

He said it was important to develop commercial perennial plant systems to combat salinity “because no government could find the $10 billion required to finance tree planting on a sufficient scale to have an impact on salination”.

Dr Shea’s primary task will be to build strategic alliances between oil mallee growers and those who benefit from the products being produced.

There are about 900 WA oil mallee growers with 17 million planted mallees influencing the water table on 40,000 hectares of land.

Market prospects for mallees include activated carbon, energy, eucalyptus oil, medium density fibreboard, fibre-cement composites, ethanol, and carbon credits

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