Our farm dam is a real jewel. Flanked by trees planted almost 30 years ago, it’s a beautiful 8 acre stretch of water that hosts an enormous range of bird species. The farm is only about 10km from the coast and the internationally significant Corner Inlet Ramsar site, so our dam hosts both inland and sea bird life – it’s not unusual to see cygnets gliding across the ripples behind their parents while pelicans roost above them. Dad had the foresight to register the dam under the Land for Wildlife program back in the ’80s to help protect the birds.
The dam sits at the heart of the farm, which is bounded by native state forest to the south and the Albert River to its north. The farm also incorporates 27 acres of remnant forest, a wetland and revegetated gully. We’re planting more trees every year.
Why? First of all, because of the much denigrated “warm and fuzzy feeling” that giving something back to nature brings. It’s not all about economics when it comes to the place you love! Second, because I firmly believe trees add to the sustainability not just of the planet but of our small patch, creating micro-climates that will protect people, animals and pastures as we endure increasingly more variable weather patterns.
Unfortunately, it’s really expensive to plant trees – allow $7 per metre for fencing, then spray for weeds, $1.10 per tree in a tube, plus the hard yakka involved with getting them in the ground – and you’re up for thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye. That’s nothing to complain about but it does limit the amount we can plant each year.
Fortunately, we can sometimes get grants for extra plantings and some volunteer groups make the plantings physically possible. These people, like the Victorian Mobile Landcare Group should be nominated for sainthood. Last October they came to help us plant 800 trees and are volunteering to help us again this year. Not everybody walks the talk like they do!