By Don Drinkwater
During 1977, I purchased the land after 70 years of human occupation leaving a very visible mark on what was once red cedar tree country. Red gold it was called by the coastal brokers, men who paid the red cedar tree getters next to nothing to mill them. Then in 1977, 2 red cedar trees remained.
Following the century of the removal of the trees, it attempted to run as a dairy farm, a futile quest when the rain fall averaged out at 2 and a half metres a year. Hooved animals and fragile soils do not mix. I bought into bare and severely eroded hillsides, stripped of all native grasses, with sad skinny cows roaming the scarred slopes. Then, with half an hour of rain, the creeks would be red with the soil run off. The resident tenants at the time had harvested what remained of the elk and stag horns and tree ferns.
In 1996 I returned to this 73 hectares of steep end of valley country. Lantana had completely established itself over the severely eroded hill sides, giving the remaining soil a chance to recover after years of being completely exposed to the elements, including the hooves of overstocked and starving cattle. Wallabies had returned. In flower, pink, orange and white, the lantana looked beautiful.
So I had a challenge and needed to create my own working environment. The encouragement was almost nil as the herbicide called Round-up was starting to appear on the market.
MY method of regeneration is simple. Hard labour and the ability to never get discouraged at the immensity of the task. I soon learnt, my best teacher, over seer, guide was nature itself.
i grew up in a no pesticide/herbicide environment. Naysayers jeered my non herbicide approach with words like, you could spray that patch and it would be done for a quarter of your labour costs and with little of your energy. You a masochist?
But it wasn’t long before I started seeing what nature intended. The slash, pull, mulch method soon proved itself an ideal sprouting nursery for dormant rain forest seed as creatures of the earth moved in to newly regenerating areas. Goannas, snakes, bandicoots, koalas. Patience, which I never had much of before, was my new guide as I began to see nature repairing and rejuvenating itself for anyone to see.
Results of chemical free bush regeneration
As our lantana removal is done at metres at a time, it gives all the resident creatures and birds a chance to relocate. If a bird’s nest or a bower is found we work around it. Brush hooks, loppers and hoes are our tools. Sturdy cotton clothes, strong ankle supporting boots, riggers gloves, which a friend finds discarded outside build sites in Brisbane, and a broad rimmed hat.
The abundance and sound of the bird life here is a privilege to witness as they herald in a new day just after dawn. The frog population has trebled and butterflies are in abundance. It can be done and with out the poisons on offer. Poisons that speed up the process in the eye of the user of herbicides. Quick fix ideal based on we want it now.
When I venture through poisoned sites, like we are witnessing now with road side spraying and the injection of the coral tree next to the creeks, I am always sad at the lack of life. And disappointed too at the humans lack of respect for life they don’t see or need.
Don’s chemical free blog – herbicidefree.co