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Recently we’ve been obsessing a bit about the history of our landscape (herehere, and even here, for example). It comes as the consequence of the last few years of reading and thinking about how Australia’s landscape and water systems have changed over time, but we hope it’s not purely an intellectual exercise. Understanding how our landscape was 200 years ago acts as a good guide for planning its future potential and limitations. By attempting to unravel the threads of actions and consequences that have reshaped these hills and valleys over the last couple of centuries, we can also not just address symptoms (such as treating an erosive headcut with a Zuni Bowl), but can also have a go at working on the causes of dysfunction in our soil, water and ecosystems. A lofty goal, but as Wes Jackson quips, “if your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough!”

Landscape History - New Page

This spaghetti-and-meatballs flowchart is our first go at representing what might have happened in our neighbourhood over the last 180-odd years, compiled from reading, observations, historical records and discussions. It provides us with a list of things to do as we attempt to address elements of this (for example, in this year’s tree planting, we’re inoculating our seedlings with beneficial fungi to restore mycorrhizal networks). We expect this chart to be tweaked, adjusted and rewritten over time as we discover new ideas or revise our assumptions. Perhaps a next step might be to construct a sequel that shows how we might attempt to improve some of this stuff.

Are there connections, consequences or other things we’ve missed, overstated or got plain wrong? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

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