It’s one of my earliest memories. Mum, Dad, my little brother and I took a tiny tree wrapped in paperbark down the paddock and planted it by the bank of the gully. It was a big affair that must have taken an hour by the time we got there, assembled the guard and wandered home again.
But that’s what “tree planting” meant back then and here is the very same tree today.
A tree just about as old as the Milk Maid
Everything changed in my teenage years when we joined 20 or so of our neighbours to visit a nearby farm criss-crossed with healthy young stands of trees. John and Gayle had created an oasis on a windy flat. It was the first Landcare event I can remember and Dad and I came away totally inspired. He set about planting trees.
An aerial photo of the farm in 1994 shows young trees emerging around the dam but little else. It was still a blank canvas but there was a sniff of success.
The centre of the farm in 1994
Can you see a few trees along a rough line in the centre of the picture? It’s a denuded gully that now looks like this, thanks to Dad’s hard work and a Landcare grant that went towards his costs:
The gully 20 years later
During my six-year-custodianship, we’ve planted nearly 10,000 trees and re-fenced our 11 hectares of forest with the help of Landcare, the local catchment management authority, the shire and Greening Australia. Although the funding sources are diverse, it’s all happened because of Landcare as the group acts like a triage service, matching funding sources with farm projects. The funding doesn’t cover everything but it does make it possible, especially with practical help from other Landcarers.
Landcare continues to inspire. In the last few years, our local Landcare group has created a grand vision that brings together the work of individual farms: creating wildlife corridors that stretch from the forest to the river to the foothills across farms, linking precious remnants to provide a network of habitats. And it’s working. Together, we can see that it’s not just our own farms that are changing, it is the entire landscape.
In this, the 25th Anniversary of Landcare, the Commission of Audit has recommended halving its funding – just as this powerful grass-roots volunteer movement has really begun to make a difference. Do you care? I do.
Bruce and Zoe planting trees in October 2011
Progress: peeping through the same trees two and a half years later.