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Salinity at work

Salinity at work

Scenes like this one are reasonably uncommon in Victoria. The state has major dryland salinity problems, but these usually manifest in more subtle ways. The extreme level of damage pictured here a landscape full of dead trees killed by the rising saline water table, which is itself caused by clearing of the surrounding land for crops is more typical of Western Australia.

Saltlakes and claypans are quite common in Western Victoria and perfectly natural: they are a consequence of the great age of the landscape and the internal drainage pattern of many low-lying areas. What is not natural is the sudden increase in the size and salinity level of the ancient saline swamp after all the surrounding deep-rooted native vegetation is removed. This is why all the trees have died: they are amazingly well adapted to harsh, saline conditions, but everything has a limit.