Katherine Horsfall

My research will look at the potential for reclaimed substrates and low nutrient soil-substitutes to enable the future deployment of cost-effective, direct-seeded native meadows at a large scale on modified urban sites.

The grasslands and grassy eucalypt understory plant communities of south-eastern Australia are botanically-rich and a delight to behold. Sadly, these systems are now fragmented, endangered and dwindling in the face of urban development.

One solution is to replant grassland and grassy understory flora in urban areas to create native meadows that reflect south-east Australia’s native grassy ecosystems. International experience has shown that meadow plantings can provide a low-cost, low-maintenance landscape treatment that can be delivered at a large scale, enhancing the biodiversity and amenity of urban areas.

Direct seeding is an established method to replant native grassy systems however challenges exist when it comes to deploying this technique in the context of contaminated or inhospitable soils or in built environments that lack soils altogether. New techniques and technologies are needed to overcome this challenge. The use of alternative designed substrates is one option.

My research will look at the potential for reclaimed substrates and low nutrient soil-substitutes to enable the future deployment of cost-effective, direct-seeded native meadows at a large scale on modified urban sites. By quantifying the benefits of different substrates and methods of establishing and maintaining native meadows I hope to provide land managers with the relevant information to deploy this planting style more broadly.

About me
I come from a background in public policy and community advocacy and I have a keen interest in how urban communities interact with the natural world. In my previous life I shaped policies and delivered programs to improve the way we manage urban water systems, natural resources and bushfire in the Australian landscape. More recently I have completed a Masters of Urban Horticulture with a focus on creating greener, more liveable cities. My PhD research aligns with previous work I have completed for the City of Melbourne, looking at direct-seeding methods to re establish a native grassy understory in Royal Park.

Contact

k.horsfall@student.unimelb.edu.au

Supervisors

A/Prof Nicholas Williams, A/Prof Stephen Livesley and John Delpratt