What a wonderful thing it is to see a multi-year project through, start to finish.
In early 2014, NACC NRM Officer Heather Legge met with Walebing farmers Tracy and Michael Humphry to develop a site plan that would fence-off two eroded saline creek lines, and plant a selection of trees and shrubs, in order to minimise erosion and also provide habitat for a variety of native birds. insects and other fauna.
Now completed, the project protected more than over 26 hectares including 12 hectares of revegetation with native species. Providing the protection was no small matter, and involved more than 5 kilometres of fencing with more than 50 strainer posts. It was no small task!
The sites were mounded in 2014 to ensure the waterlogged soil was sufficiently dry in preparation for planting.
In August 2015, Tracy and Michael planted the thousands of trees and shrubs required to fulfil the task, often enduring very cold wet conditions in the process, and even getting bogged.
Hand-planting the trees proved to be effective due to the soil conditions, and the Humphrys spent countless hours on the project – determined to plant all 18,000 seedlings within the planting “window of opportunity”.
“It was so boggy that my feet would stick in the mud and my feet kept falling out of my shoes,” said Mrs Humphry. “In those conditions (clodding clay), we found hand-planting, although slow and tiring, was more successful than the mechanical tree planter.
“Seeing the trees now – way over my head – is very rewarding. Our hours of hard work have been worth-while.”
During a recent site visit, Heather said she was very happy to see the fruits of all that labour.
“The winter season of 2015 was not a very good one, but the survival rate has been excellent – averaging 84%,” she said.
“Some trees where over two metres tall, and there was a lot of natural recruitment (self-seeding) already occurring. I was also very pleased to see that the native sedge Juncus krausii looking really healthy – it had been planted between rows, with the aim of stabilising the soil, and it is now thriving in pretty harsh conditions.”
“The Humphrys have gone way above and beyond with this project, overcoming many challenges along the way and it has certainly paid off,” she said.
Heather said that NACC would like to thank Denis Mitchell from Wongan Tree Nursery for the invaluable assistance he provided in helping Tracy and Michael with their species selection and placement at the site.
“NACC looks forward to working with more farmers in the future to protect and restore more native biodiversity,” said Heather.
For more information or to get involved with NACC’s on-farm biodiversity and bush stewardship, visit the NACC website.
This project is supported by the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council through funding from the Australian Government.