Repairing the landscape
“Being in the paddock on a freezing cold windy day and having the option of moving behind a native tree shelter belt is one of those ‘wow’ moments – what a great thing to do to a barren landscape – plant trees.”
As a young farmer in the late 1980s, Steve experienced this when visiting David Marsh’s property in Boorowa for a Landcare event. So, he decided he should go home and plant some shelter belts as well.
That is basically how the native revegetation began on Heathfield. Steve joined the local Landcare group and spent over 20 years continuously on one or more committees, as President of the Boorowa Community Landcare Group for 10 of those years, and as the designated Direct Tree Seeding Contractor for several years.
Steve has had (like many many others who joined the Landcare movement in Australia) an unwavering dedication to revegetating and repairing the landscape – because the outlook was very poor with salinity issues, lack of biodiversity and Eucalypt dieback contributing to a dying landscape.
Establishing many thousands of indigenous trees and shrubs has brought back birds and other species and improved the health and diversity of the farm environment. It has also given much needed shelter to livestock and is particularly beneficial to lamb survival. Then there’s the mental health element – having shelter belts and paddock trees makes the place much more pleasant to live and work.
Steve is proud of the work done here and has hosted field days and inspections over the years showcasing the plantings. Much of the work has been co-funded by governments and other organisations such as Greening Australia, but Steve has also put in a lot of his own time, money and effort, including protecting areas of natural regeneration and subdividing paddocks for better grazing management.
A partner to the tree work done on Heathfield was the cessation of set stocking. By managing grazing carefully there has been an increase in the diversity of pasture species. Resting paddocks has allowed them to be more resilient and make much better use of rainfall events, providing a bulk of feed more quickly. Resting paddocks has also allowed the natural regeneration of eucalypts.
We will continue to plant native trees and shrubs on the farm, and are now focusing on planting more paddock trees in an effort to leave the farm a much better place than we found it.
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