Why bother being green?

Land for Wildlife dam

Our Land for Wildlife dam

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!

6 Comments

Filed under Climate, Environment, People

6 responses to “Why bother being green?

  1. One thing that I really appreciate about the farming family I married into here in WA is that they try not to knock down trees in favour of cropping and have designated huge areas to native vegetation. It is so sad to drive past farms where all the trees have been pushed over and burnt. Or where farmers let fires get into scrub and trees and they don’t bother to try and get them out. Beautiful dam, by the way.

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    • milkmaidmarian

      It’s amazing the way trees make you feel about a place, isn’t it, FEM? The first chunk of our place was cleared in the early 1900s I believe and all that was left were a few lonely specimens. Thankfully, they did leave the trees along the river, which is a great legacy.

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  2. Gillian Hayman

    Great post Marian, we too are passionate about having a farm that achieves productivity while being a home for the many birds, mammals, reptiles etc that live here. It also makes it a great place for us to live! Look out for some articles in the local media about some of Gippsland’s dairy farmers who share our passion!

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    • milkmaidmarian

      Thanks for the comment, Gillian! I will look out for those stories because it’s great to discover new ways of improving the farm. Do you know if they’ll make it into the Yarram Standard?

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      • Gillian Hayman

        Hi Marian – yes! Hoping to do some stories specifically in the Yarram are following the Landcare awards in your area – keep an eye out.
        The South Gippsland Landcare Network had their awards last night and The Fish Creek Group won an award so that was exciting.
        Stay warm!
        Gillian

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        • milkmaidmarian

          That’s great – thank you Gillian! It’s amazing how many farmers round here are so committed to looking after the environment. I’m always impressed by what’s been achieved, especially in the last 15 years or so while the weather has made it so difficult to get new plantings established.

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