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The 'before' photo: 800 new plants in position. Stay tuned over the next 20 years for the 'after' shot.

The ‘before’ photo: 800 new plants in position. Stay tuned over the next 20 years for the ‘after’ shot.

Over the weekend of the 12-13 July, around 30 dedicated volunteers descended on TBC for our annual tree-planting fiesta. Over two days, we managed to plant some 800 locally indigenous plants in the two ‘wilderness zones’, kick-starting their transition back to pink- and red-gum woodland. The first area was planted outwards from the former Bee House (currently tree-planter snack dispensary and rain shelter) with around 600 plants selected to address the water-logging in the area and to revegetate in and around erosion gullies. The second area saw the planting of around 200 plants, radiating from the existing remnant redgums. Once again these plants were selected to address water-logging and erosion as well as provide shelter to adjacent paddocks. Over the following week, we dodged thunderstorms and icy squalls to add another 150 or so plants, with about 200ish to go!

The Bee Team (minus a few), from day one.

The Bee Team (minus a few), from day one.

The Tree Team (minus a few more), from day two.

The Tree Team (minus a few more), from day two.

While the vegetation cover of the erosion gullies is improving since stock have been excluded, we’ve also observed that they have their own extreme microclimates. In winter they’re bare and swampy, in summer they’re bare and arid, with noticeably higher temperatures that the surrounding land. A focus has been to also work to grow canopy to allow shading of the gullies and greater potential for more complex vegetation to establish.

Temporary, roo-proof nursery for storing seedlings on location

Temporary, roo-proof nursery for storing seedlings on location

A dawn shower rolls over Second Valley's cliffs on the first day of planting.

A dawn shower rolls over Second Valley’s cliffs on the first day of planting.

The kids planting brigade makes a start around the Bee House.

The kids planting brigade makes a start around the Bee House.

A hole. Essential for successful tree planting.

A hole. Essential for successful tree planting.

chaingang

Sean and Steven revegetate the settled gully walls.

Sean and Steven revegetate the settled gully walls.

Hard at work, with quality control officer Richard putting everyone through their paces.

Hard at work, with quality control officer Richard putting everyone through their paces.

Sean and Nat dig in the undergrowth.

Sean and Nat dig in the undergrowth.

The resident garden gnomes inspect the work.

The resident garden gnomes inspect the work.

break

While we’ve written elsewhere about the structure of woodland, we’ve gone for a high planting density based on previous experiences with enthusiastic grazing by kangaroos and deer. We’ve also amped up protection for particularly high value trees, selected according to species, shelter, habitat or erosion control value with the use of both homemade and purchased wire mesh guards. Throughout the planting, while the resident mob of kangaroos perched on a nearby hill and noted the GPS coordinates of every tree as it went into the ground, we’re pleased to say that they’ve so far been quite restrained in their sampling! Perhaps the sudden appearance of all those green tree guards has spooked them a little. We’ll see.

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Grow little blue gum! Grow!

Grow little blue gum! Grow!

Regeneration happens by itself, too!

Regeneration happens by itself, too!

Now in our second year, we’re fine-tuning our tree-planting process. By the second day, we’d adopted what we’re calling the Hoepfner Method. It goes something like this: firstly, layout your tree guards and stakes, then dig all your corresponding holes, then plant all your plants, then peg in your tree guards. If you have a group, then you can divide up these tasks amongst the group. We found this to be effective in ensuring everyone knew what they were doing, and it also allowed for plant positioning to be somewhat planned where required. The use of the tree guards as markers is also avoids the losing of holes or unplanted seedling in long grass.

An enormous, heartfelt thanks goes to all of our 2014 tree-planters, including Jeremy, Claire, Innis, Chris, Connie, Ly, Pete, Shani, Arlo, Freya, Nat, Jess, Oliver, Sean, Sue, Steven, Narelle, Andrew, Paquita, Lauren, Emmie, Richard G, Robyn, Richard S, Marg and Kathy. We hope you can join us again next year!

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