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 plants and animals, while also maintaining an income from farming that will allow us to continue well into the future. I’m not intending to create either a forest or a pure wildlife reserve, but a farm 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 to towards 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.
– 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
– I have the time to think about creative solutions
– 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
– I have wonderful friends, neighbours and family support
– 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, supports native animals including insects
– where possible those revegetation areas also function as windbreaks, shelter and in some cases, fodder for grazing animals,
– 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,
– working in a strategic way across the landscape to link together the existing and future refuges
So far we’ve planted about 4000 mixed trees and shrubs in fenced revegetation areas, with fantastic help from volunteers and four grants (see Thanks page). Another 900 will be planted in 2015, including a collaboration with our neighbour Suzanne Carter at Carkella. 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. That’ll be next.