Drone photo of tree planting project with tractor and cars in the foreground

Ballardong Noongar Country

Bencubbin, WA​

Bencubbin is located in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia, approximately 270 kilometres north-east of Perth. This 22 hectare planting site is part of a larger property owned by a local farming family. Since the 1900s, this region has been extensively cleared for agriculture, causing a range of environmental issues. By planting a diverse mix of native species, the aim of this project is to create a natural wind buffer to reduce erosion, improve soil quality, and restore biodiversity. After 25 years the landholders will be able to harvest the valuable sandalwood timber, creating a mutually beneficial restoration model for all involved.

Since 2018, more than 22,000 seedlings and 51 kg of seed have been planted across the project site. Additional Acacia acuminata (‘Jam Wattle’) seedlings were planted this winter to bulk up patchy areas and increase the number of Sandalwood hosts across the site.

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Seedlings Planted

Project overview

Latest news

Bitumen road leading towards the horizon with native Australian bush on either side


Coming Up

More sandalwood nuts will be sown next Autumn. Comprehensive monitoring assessments will be conducted annually until the site is established (approx. 6 years).

Person sitting in a tree planting machine surrounded by seedlings


July 2022

Ros (Sandalwood Solutions) and the CPOZ team planted an additional 6,000 Acacia acuminata (‘Jam Wattle’) seedlings across patchy areas of the site. A combination of machine and hand-planting was used with the aim to increase the number of sandalwood host trees. Sandalwood seeds will be sown next to these trees next Autumn.

Person walking towards a row of shrubs


May 2022

Ros (Sandalwood Solutions) and Jess (CPOZ) headed to site in early May to conduct a full monitoring assessment. Results indicated that average stocking density had declined slightly from the previous year, to 757 trees/ha. High variability between sites was noticeable, mainly due to fauna predation. The tallest tree was an Acaica lasiocalyx (‘Silver shaggy wattle’) which measured an impressive 4.2 metres.

Photo showing rows of green, planted shrubs in a paddock.


July 2021

Monitoring results from July showed an average of 840 stems per hectare; a significant improvement from previous years. There was still a notable variation between the plots, with lower density around the perimeter as a result of predation from rabbits and kangaroos. An additional 7.5kg of Sandalwood seed was planted across the site and further infill of host species recommended for the following winter.

Close up photo of a persons hands holding a small round nut and a red metal tube.


July 2020

An additional 4,326 Acacia acuminata (‘Jam Wattle’) seedlings were hand-planted across the site to increase stocking density. This species was chosen as it is the main host species for Sandalwood. In addition to the Acacia seedlings, a further 7.5kg of Sandalwood seed was hand-planted across the site using pottiputki planting devices.

A black tray of Australian native seedlings


November 2019

Results from the monitoring assessment indicated a significant difference in stocking density (trees/ha) between the two planting compartments (more than 1,000 trees/ha in the northern compartment and ~351 trees/ha in the southern compartment). This difference may be attributed to pest damage as the southern compartment is directly adjacent to remnant bushland. Further infill was recommended to ensure the desired stocking density was met.

A black tray of Australian native seedlings


August 2019

As recommended, an additional 2,464 seedlings were hand-planted to “bulk-up” patchy areas across the site. These were predominately the host species Acacia acuminata (‘Jam Wattle’) and Eucalytpus loxophleba (‘York Gum’). Approximately 30kg of Sandalwood seed (Santalum spicatum) was also planted across the site with seeds being hand-sown next to established host trees.

Man wearing glasses and a hat hammering a wooden stake into the ground of a sandy paddock.


July 2019

A full assessment of the planting site was conducted a year after the initial planting. The team monitored 11 random quadrats across the site, collecting data on species diversity, germination, height and survival. Overall, the average survival rate was around 60%, however this varied significantly between quadrats (47% to 84%). Infill planting was recommended for the following winter in order to reach the desired stocking density across the project site.

Photo of a dried paddock with a row of small planted seedlings.


January 2019

Initial monitoring was conducted during summer to assess survival. Results showed an overall survival rate of around 85%. This was deemed a positive result considering the drier than average conditions the area had experienced. The team noted some pest damage (likely kangaroos and rabbits) particularly around the perimeter of the site where they had nibbled seedlings. This was recorded and additional pest control was recommended for the area.

Tractor towing a trailer driving across a sandy paddock.


July 2018

Over a three day period, approximately 10,000 seedlings and 6kg of native seed mix was planted across the site. A direct seeding machine was used to plant both seed and seedlings, making fast work of the large area. In total, 25 different native species were planted. Acacias, which act as hosts for sandalwood, represented a large proportion of this mix. Other species planted on the site included several Eucalyptus, Casuarina and Hakea species.

Photo of a sandy paddock with a white ute in the far right next to a tree line.


May 2018

To prepare for planting, the site (which consists of two main compartments) was scalped and ripped. This process removes weeds from the seed bank and loosens the soil so seedling roots can establish successfully. Pest control and weed management was undertaken to minimise competition. Fencing was established around the site to prevent sheep, kangaroos and rabbits from grazing on the new seedlings.

What we planted

Acacia Illustration


16 species
sandalwood host
short lifespan
nitrogen fixing​

Illustration of an Allocasuarina


2 species
nitrogen fixing​
hardwood tree

Casuarina illustration


1 species
salt and drought tolerant
attracts native birds
nitrogen converter

Eucalyptus Illustration


4 species
high survivability in nutrient-poor soils
fast maturing tree
utilised for canopy cover

Illustration of a Hakea


1 species
hardy shrub
endemic to Australia
fire-adapted germination

Sandalwood Illustration


1 species
aromatic timber

Project gallery