12 Dec 2011

Weeds could be key for Nauru soil restoration

9:09 am on 12 December 2011

A researcher at New Zealand's Victoria University says weed-type plants could help restore soil to Nauru.

Alex Feary's recently completed Masters thesis examines the potential of cover crops for creating soil on the island, which has lost almost all of its productive land through phosphate mining.

He says the centre of the island is a massive rock wasteland and there's little rain so it's almost impossible to get plants to grow.

Mr Feary says while there's work underway to use stockpiled soil that was scraped away for mining, Nauru also needs plants that grow quickly and produce lots of organic matter.

"The species that we found to be most successful are ones that would otherwise be considered as weeds. They're species which tend to pop in places because other things have been removed. So you can kind of imagine maybe in New Zealand sort of dandelions and things."

But Alex Feary says political will is critical for the success of any effort to restore soil.