People who drive conservation by walking the talk

Three men drove up to five hours (each way) to get to our farm and then worked tirelessly all day for nothing except the sense of satisfaction that comes with doing something good.

David, Chris and Bruce are members of the Victorian Mobile Landcare Group, which is unique because rather than being a collective of environmentally-aware landholders keen to make their properties more sustainable, this is a group of environmentally-aware volunteers who plant tens of thousands of trees all over the state.

As they explain on the group website, VMLG members are “people passionate about land care through responsible 4WD use, we are a non-profit association tightly affiliated with Landcare Australia and 4WD Victoria”.

Last year, the VMLG helped us plant 800 trees and we were wrapt that they could come again this year to add 1200 more. Here they are at the start of the day, ready to get stuck into planting.

Victorian Mobile Landcare Group volunteers

Victorian Mobile Landcare Group volunteers: Bruce, Chris and David (L-R)

Bruce, Chris and David soldiered on in the rain (“just one more tray,” eh Chris?), stopping only for an hour-long BBQ lunch. I was proud to have Zoe working alongside these fellows who do so much more than talk about their commitment to the environment.

Bruce shows Zoe how to plant trees

Bruce shows Zoe how to plant trees

At the end of the day, we had created two wildlife corridors and shelter for the cows – a great outcome for the environment, our animals and the landscape. One tree was set aside for Zoe and ceremonially planted in the garden to remind us of the day.

Members of the VMLG and Zoe with a ceremonial tree

Members of the VMLG (David, Bruce and Chris) and Zoe with a ceremonial tree

Thanks guys. We couldn’t have got this done without your help. Thanks also to the West Gippsland Catchment Authority for spraying and 800 metres of fencing and to the Yarram Yarram Landcare Network for the donation of 400 trees.

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!