National Landcare Program
Small Farms Small Grants-Round 2
The objective of the project was to address the lack shelter and protection for livestock and wildlife that was widespread on many of the properties in the Wanganella region. The region is predominately saltbush plains interrupted by a few intermittent timbered waterways. Many properties have paddocks up to 2,000ha in size with not a tree in sight to offer protection for livestock and wildlife. The conditions are harsh in those paddocks particularly for lambing ewes to shelter their new born lambs from the wind and chilly conditions in the winter months and extreme heat in the summer months.
The topic of tree plantations and shelter belts has readily come up in our neighbourly get together and it was suggested that we should apply for group funding and pool our resources, ideas, labour and machinery to increase the chance of achieving a successful outcome of increasing vegetated shelter in our region.
We measured and recorded our progress through monthly inspections of the sites and recorded the progress through documenting the growth through visual inspections and by photo documentation. Social media posts to the Caroonboon Merinos and Calga Dohnes Facebook pages were also used to share the progress and success of the project with a broader audience.
Significant outcomes from the project were the establishment of shelterbelts in areas void of trees and now in the early years of establishment successful results have already been achieved in the survival of species within the shelterbelts. They have survived drought, extreme heat, and predators. In many of the plantations native grasses have re-established and regenerated. The most prolific in growth of all the species planted was the Old Man Saltbush. As it can grow over two metres tall it will provide early protection from the elements for livestock and native wildlife while the tree species such as Black Box, Silverton Gum and Myall/Boree establish themselves and gain height and size.
Some unexpected outcomes from the project were strengthening of relationships between project participants along with other likeminded people in the community interested in creating a sustainable environment during a challenging time in the pandemic.
The final inspection of the sites renewed enthusiasm for the project and for the benefits that shelter belt implementation can offer land managers in the long term. Participants plan to have ongoing inspections to monitor how each shelter belt progresses.