Have you ever thought about trying to bring a little more nature into your home or town? This week I taught the 'Ecosystem Rehabilitation' class to third year students at the University of New England. Luckily, we spent much of our time outside, discovering projects that are all about bringing back nature.
We visited farmers that have been planting native trees to increase cover on their properties. Native trees provide shade for stock in summer and wind protection in winter. They also create habitat for predatory species like raptors that aid in pest control. Eastlake property has achieved around 85% success from the seeds they plant and Gordon, the owner, tells us preparation is key.
In the forestry industry, the Department of Primary Industry have explored the potential of growing different trees for timber. We visited an experiment they have been undertaking in Tamworth and students measured the survival and growth of trees. This allowed us to compare the success of different species and ground preparation strategies.
Practices in rehabilitation have been changing over time, particularly in riverine areas. The erosion in rivers has increased their depth so that floodplains rarely flood, an event that important to deliver fertility and nutrients back to the land.
The erosion in rivers has increased their depth so that floodplains rarely flood, an event that important to deliver fertility and nutrients back to the land.
In the past, exotic species like willows or engineered structures like fences were used to help stabilise rivers and reduce erosion. Now we place a structure of combined logs and roots into the riverbank to provide a more natural feature to prevent erosion, slow the flow of water and create habitat for fish to live and breed.
There have also been some interesting developments in the mining industry. We saw some novel techniques like planting dead trees into newly revegetated sites. These 'stag trees' can otherwise take 100 years to form. The hollows are important habitat to raptors like eagles and kites so by purposely putting them into the landscape, we are providing an important habitat resource instantly.
As our agricultural and urban areas expand and we see more habitat converted and degraded, the science of rehabilitation is increasingly important. Everyone can be involved in restoring nature through your local Landcare group or by planting native species in your garden. If there is a particular group of animals you'd like to see around your home, research what plants they like and see if you can create their home.