Greening the Desert cultivates the desert and marginal land for food and valuable cash crops to combat famine and global warming where otherwise, nothing else can grow.
We apply our scientific and field research to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians and rural communities by helping them to cultivate drought and salinity stricken landscape to grow cash crops and food to overcome worldwide famine and reduce global warming.
We empower and add purpose for Indigenous Australians by applying their vast history and affinity with the land to help us to cultivate harsh, drought and salinity stricken terrain to grow crops and food where nothing else can grow.
In return, we provide business skills and mentoring that can change lives for the better – as well as delivering productive crop outcomes to overcome the global problems of humanitarian aid and climate change.
Our land methodologies mimic nature for the permanent and sustainable remediation and productive use of drought stricken, saline afflicted and degraded farmland and landscapes.
They address issues of climate change; improved farm productivity; the revival of wildlife habitat; diminishing ecosystems and soil erosion caused by wind, desertification, rising water tables and soil instability.
Most importantly – they change lives for the better by providing Indigenous and rural communities with social, economic and environmental net gains.
Greening the Desert empowers Indigenous Australians, by mentoring and training in business and commerce so their vast experience, natural affinity and knowledge of farming, animal husbandry and bush tucker can be used to combat domestic and global issues such as widespread famine and climate change, in a way that is dignified and respectful of the oldest living culture in the world of more than 40,000 years.
What we do
In the desert, arid wasteland and on marginal land, we provide mentors and teachers for Indigenous communities and rural landowners to exploit their vast knowledge and experience to grow commercial crops for
- Human consumption and animal feed
- Pharmaceuticals and flavonoids for medicinal and wellness products
- Abatement offset to counter global warming, and
- Biochar and biofuels for renewable energy
Our holistic solutions extend beyond agriculture alone. They provide community programs for employment, job skills and economic development and for watershed catchment management practices, improved farming techniques and the development of specific skills relating to a broad range of downstream activities such as
- milling (organic and gluten free food products for human consumption)
- pellet making (feed for all forms of livestock)
- climate change (from soil carbon and agroforestry)
- humanitarian aid (to combat global famine and malnutrition)
- domestic and international trade (to sell products in Australia and overseas)
- packaging and transport (for export) and
- many other forms of valuable environmental, logisitical, social, sporting and community net gains.
Why we do it
We do it to to halt desertification and restore poor and unsustainable landscapes and farms, salt flats and flood plains and to remediate man-made land degradation caused by agriculture, forestry and mining.
We do it to help farmers to survive on the land by growing food for livestock and human consumption that will sustain disadvantaged and poverty stricken people in Australian and around the world.
We do it to empower and provide purpose for Indigenous Australians to use the 80,000 million hectares of Native Title Land (31% of the north of Australia)* to apply their knowledge and history to productively tame and exploit an unforgiving country for the benefit of themselves and others.
We do it for our mentoring and teaching structures to convert their knowledge and skill for productive commercial and business enterprise for the benefit of all Australians – as well as overcoming poverty and famine by growing food for humanitarian aid on otherwise worthless land.
We do it to combat long term global warming by replenishing the earth, reducing the albedo effect and encouraging more rainfall.
A common perception is that rain emanates from the sky – whereas in fact, it emanates from the ground. Rain falls (or ceases to fall) because of what is growing on the ground. If there are no lush forests, green foliage or ground cover…rain will not fall.
– Fukoaka 1985
* Australian Government White Paper June 2015
Greening the Desert is based on extensive scientific research and practical field trials to identify the species and the means to sustain productive agriculture.
In 2009 the company received a Commonwealth ARC Research Grant in partnership with the pre-eminent University of Tasmania (UTas) for the research and investigation of productive crop outcomes from drought tolerant and saline consuming plant species.
You can download a copy of this research report by clicking here: Panta et al (2014)
Our Scientific Partner – the University of Tasmania (UTas)
Our species have been researched and tested by our scientific partner and by planting in companionship with other drought and salinity tolerant species.
Professor Shabala (left) of UTas; the Chairman of the Indigenous Monetary Fund of Australia (IMFA) Mr. Parry Agius (centre) and Mr. Gabriel Haros Managing Director of Greening the Desert inspect saline irrigated crops at the UTas Research Farm at Cambridge, Tasmania.
Our research identifies a number of species
- Requiring nil or minimal irrigation
- Of extreme salinity tolerance – in some cases using saline irrigation or flooding
- Requiring minimal land preparation, cultivation and weeding, and
- Needing negligible quantities of fertilizer
The species can flourish within extreme climatic conditions and planting in impoverished terrain and flood plains.
Most of our species are native to countries and regions where the landscape is marginal or comprised of desert.
They include a mix of different types of plants that are capable of consuming salt and are drought resistant and tolerant.
These species can be used in companionship for a range of bio-diverse planting regimes – reducing the need for water and organically enriching the soil by fixing nitrogen.
Some species are endowed with salt bladders that consume salt from the land – which is disposed of by grazing or by mechanical harvesting (a process called phytoremediation) – making them ideal species for retaining carbon emissions in the soil.
Pictured is a microscopic photo of salt bladders.
Non-till ground preparation
Non-till site preparation is an important part of our land management system for overcoming minimal rainfall and sporadic weather patterns.
Extreme ploughing activity damages and ruins the soil, disturbing valuable biodiverse root systems that penetrate deep into the ground in search of air, water and nutrients.
By using ground imprinting or ripping to avoid breaking-up the soil and to minimise erosion – we employ manual labour when necessary or use machines to meet local site conditions.
Clay seed capsules
We use clay seed capsules to encase seeds within their own natural climatic environment pending germination to provide nourishment and protection from a host of predators and damaging elements while waiting to germinate under the right climatic conditions.
The capsules accommodate a range of different landscape and conditions, providing valuable micro-sites for seed establishment by concentrating scarce site resources such as water and organic matter, within non-till imprinted hollows thus creating – rather than relying on – the right climatic conditions for germination.
Continuing the science
To ensure the best possible results, our planting methodologies include continuing and rigorous testing regimes by
- Seed cleaning and grading in a seed laboratory for germination and seed health (pathology) testing
- Seed treatment for fast and uniform seed germination processes
- The removal of barriers for physical, chemical or morphological dormancy of seed to facilitate embryo development and repair, and
- Significant research and development using internationally accredited experts for seed production, seed quality and seed treatment.
Founder and Managing Director
Former Tasmanian parliamentarian and lawyer, Gabriel founded the PundaZoie Company Pty. Ltd. which is the owner of the intellectual property comprising the Greening the Desert program in the early 1990’s.
The word PundaZoie is comprised of two Greek words meaning “everlasting life.”
Mobile +61. 438 116 649
Prof. Sergey Shabala
The GTD research leader and Stress Physiology Research Group Leader at the School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania, Sergey is also a co-Director of the Australia-China Research Centre for Plant Stress Biology and an Editor in Chief for Functional Plant Biology.
Sergey is the acknowledged world leader for plant stress physiology, plant adaptive responses to salinity, extreme temperatures, soil acidity, drought, water logging, nutritional disorders and bionic stress.
Sergey is on the scientific funding panel for 14 different countries where his research has been cited almost 7000 times. His current H Index is 45.
Jeff Castellas is Managing Director of Greenard Willing India Pty Ltd. and the founder and director of Clean Technology AustralAsia Pty Ltd.
Jeff has enjoyed 20 years of professional investment banking and corporate advisory experience and is acknowledged as an international expert in structuring and raising capital for industry partnership projects in the agriculture, energy and mining sectors in Australia and India.
Jeff advises ASX public and private companies on commercialisation and investment. He has a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Earth Sciences from Deakin University, Melbourne and Master’s Degree in Business from Royal Roads University, BC, Canada.
Mobile +61. 401 067 252
Michele is Director of Eco-efficient Consulting: business strategist and marketer with an unwavering passion for the environment, having founded her first environmentally minded enterprise at 18 years of age. Michele has continued to make a life-long contribution to the area of the environment and over a decade in clean technologies.
Mobile +61. 409 858 116
A graduate in botany and geology from the University of Tasmania, Roy has been a science teacher, Supervisor of Science in the Tasmanian Education Dept., managing director of both a computer training company and a Web design and marketing business operator.
Roy has acted as a consultant in business management and project development and for the PundaZoie Company for the last five years, Roy has been involved in developing projects and management structures.
Mobile +61. 438 392 041
Elizabeth (Biz) Nicholson
Tasmanian farmer and seed producer, Elizabeth (Biz) is the proprietor of the specialist Tasmanian wild seeds production company Taz Wild Seeds as well as Taz Wild Foods (a grower of Tasmanian sea vegetables) and is an experienced and successful farmer in her own right.
Biz’s family run 18,000 sheep on their Tasmanian farm where Biz propagates and grows native species for a broad range of practical purposes.
Phone +61. 3. 6384 2165
Suresh is responsible for science and research having joined our team in 2014, holding two postgraduate degrees in Agricultural science as well as being a final year PhD candidate in University of Tasmania.
Suresh’s research is Halophytes for high saline agriculture where he is researching the sustainable use of saline water for irrigated halophytic plant production in degraded land and plant adaptive responses to extreme environment (soil and water salinity, drought, and waterlogging) soil health and rehabilitation of degraded land. Suresh is a member of Soil Science Australia and the Australian Society of Plant Scientists.
Mobile +61. 421 358 669
Greening the Desert is developing a number of projects both in Australia and overseas.
Changing lives for the better by helping the world
Greening the Desert affirms Indigenous Australians want a say in their future,
They want to be involved; have their property rights respected; consent to activity on their land and waterways and secure a fair and equitable return on their capital and labour.
By encouraging a future that delivers land tenure, working capital and employment and develops business and entrepreneurial skills, the fruit from Indigenous enterprise can assist many disadvantaged people around the world to change their lives for the better.
You can provide your support by partnering with Indigenous Australians for the greening just one square metre of degraded or marginal, Aboriginal, Native Title Land or rural land for as little as $1.00.
The Wimmera – Turning negatives into positives
Greening the Desert has established a number of trial plots in partnership with drought and salinity affected farmers and stakeholders of the Wimmera Districts of Western Victoria.
These trials, conducted with the assistance and support of the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority (WCMA) are researching and trialling the potential for long term perennial crop solutions on marginal land for alternative growing outcomes for local farmers.
This project involves growing and processing hardy and consistent crop outcomes into feed pellets and foodstuffs for export as high quality livestock fodder and for high protein food for sustenance in countries such as Africa and India.
Trials in the UAE
Ground preparation by imprinting being conducted by hand in preparation for trial plots in the UAE
No desert landscape in the world is as harsh as the deserts of Arabia. Almost every tree and shrub growing in the UAE requires irrigation – and almost every drop of water used for irrigation purposes is provided by desalination.
Greening the Desert is trialling a variety of endemic and Australian species in the harshest desert landscape in the world at sites at Ghayathi and Barqua Al Suqor for the cultivation of crops using both nil and saline contaminated water.
Visible sign of success have already emerged from the harsh desert landscape in respect of these trials.
Get in touch
Should you wish to support our work, become involved in our activities, receive more information or if we can address a specific need for you about Greening the Desert™ please feel free to contact one of our team members by phone or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The PundaZoie Company P/L (ACN 101 489 605)