I have a constantly evolving plan for improving the productivity, resilience and sustainability of 743 hectares of land on either side of the Murrumbidgee in New South Wales, Australia. It’s based on my current knowledge at any given moment, negotiation with the other people involved and any new information I gain.
The principles I’m working from include increasing biodiversity and resilience among the local plants and animals, while also maintaining an income from farming that will allow us to continue into the future. I’m not intending to create either a forest or a pure wildlife reserve, but a primary production enterprise with functioning woodlands, native plants and animals.
I also want to apply the best information I can find, whether that’s from academic research or from local knowledge, and apply that to creative solutions to our problems.
Our problems include
– the fact that we’re losing native trees and other plants, quite rapidly in some areas,
– the soil is granitic, often acid and rocky
– the hills are prone to erosion and sheep camp effects
– the wind is often fierce, drying the soil and making poor protection for the plants and animals and increasing fire risks.
– the Murrumbidgee river acts as a conveyor belt for weeds. Elsewhere weeds are also a significant problem, especially where the native perennials grasses have been overtaken by exotic annuals.
– many of our buildings and fences are old and in need of repair.
– the river is polluted by effluent from Canberra, the biggest city directly on the Murray-Darling river system. I’d really like to be able to improve our creek water quality and protect our native fish.
In our favour
– Craig is great source of scientific knowledge about biodiversity and wildlife, so I can walk his talk
– there are some remnants of Yellow Box woodland remaining relatively undisturbed
– the soil can be very good in some places
– the rocky country can be excellent for sheep grazing, and in other areas the rocks help protect native plants from grazing.
– we are close to Canberra and the many resources there
– I have wonderful friends, neighbours and for several years, encouragement from my mother, Barbara Hamer.
– it’s beautiful here.
My strategies include:
– fenced native tree and shrub revegetation areas and a comprehensive planting system that encourages survival and increases biodiversity, and also supports native animals including insects
– where possible those revegetation areas also function as windbreaks, shelter and in some cases, fodder for grazing animals, to improve the ongoing viability of the farm.
– encouraging the use of the two farms for research as appropriate, such as on the adaptability of Yellow Box eucalypts to a changing climate.
– inviting as many volunteers as possible, to extend what we can do, and also to share this beautiful place with others, as well as providing job opportunities to interested students and others.
– working in a strategic way across the landscape to link together the existing and future refuges to allow native wildlife to feed and migrate. A good piece of advice was to start close to the house – where I can see and enjoy what we’ve done.
So far we’ve planted about 8000 mixed trees and shrubs in various fenced revegetation areas, with fantastic help from volunteers and grants (see Thanks page). I plan to continue planting around 1000 trees/shrubs per year for as many years as possible. The repairs to fences and buildings are going along. My knowledge of the local fauna, flora and history is increasing. I haven’t done as much with the river as I’d like.