Monthly Archives: March 2015

Open letter to Dr Tim Flannery

Ever since he watched the ABC TV series ‘Two Men in a Tinny’, in which celebrated scientist and author Dr Tim Flannery and comedian John Doyle advocated for nation-wide willow eradication, Peter Marshall has been trying persistently to contact  Dr Flannery to canvass an alternative approach.

Recently, Peter was delighted to receive a reply from Dr Flannery along with a request for further information. Dr Flannery said he’d be interested to learn about Peter’s work and asked if the willows are ever removed after they’ve done their job holding banks together.

Peter CC’d me into his reply and invited me to respond with an outline of what Non-Nativist Landcare is about and what we’re hoping to achieve. After some encouragement, I’m posting my response here for others to consider. We’re yet to receive further correspondence from Dr Flannery who is undoubtedly a very busy individual, but we live in hope he has read what we sent, and will consider it.

What follows is a simple cut and paste of my email, sent to Dr Flannery and Peter Marshall. I know it’s lengthy and might be a bit heavy, but I wasn’t going to waste time on small talk.

Thanks for your kind introduction Peter. Sorry to be so slow to respond, I have had a number of pressing tasks to complete recently.

Dr Flannery, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to write to you. Peter has asked that I outline our thinking and operations (quite a task). I will try to keep what I have to say relatively brief, though this will be difficult.

My educational background is a Bachelor’s degree in ‘Ecological Agriculture’ from CSU. I have since completed a B.Sci(Hons) year looking at natural repair processes within incised swampy meadows. I’m currently pursuing further study at ANU in biological anthropology.​ ​In approaching agriculture from an ecological perspective​ we learn to take a functional approach to agroecosystems and to ourselves (as humans) and our place in this biosphere. It’s odd, but for many people, the word ‘ecological’ simply means ‘natural’; ​so ​agriculture and humans are ​believed to exist somehow​ ​outside of, or beyond, ecological processes. This is clearly not the reality of our situation ​here ​on Earth, as you have expertly documented​​ (several times). Continue reading

Two new Natural Sequence training workshops in 2015

Following up on our recent post by Peter Hazell regarding the Mulloon Community Catchment Rehydration project, we’ve received notice of a new series of training workshops being conducted by Tarwyn Park Training later this year. Many of us involved in the Flood Creek Non-Nativist Landcare Group have learnt a great deal from the work of Peter Andrews and his ‘Natural Sequence Farming’ approach to landscape management. Considering the interest generated by the previous post we’re publishing this notice from Tarwyn Park Training for readers of the blog to consider.

Enlightened landcarers everywhere take note:

Tarwyn Park Training will be running two 5-day courses in 2015. The purpose of this new format is to provide participants with the opportunity to access key knowledge & skills associated with Natural Sequence Farming. Continue reading

Natural Sequence Farming landscape rehydration project at Mulloon Creek

Peter Hazell is a longtime local landcarer and was the first Landcare Coordinator in the Upper-Shoalhaven district (sometime last century). Owing to his affable and level-headed nature, he has always been a popular contributor to the Landcare community. In-between family life and managing 1000 acres on the Mongarlowe River, plus developing his own homestead not far from Braidwood, Pete currently works as a project coordinator for the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration project. This catchment-wide project involves multiple landholders near Bungendore, NSW. It aims to implement and scientifically assess aspects of Natural Sequence Farming and has been enthusiastically embraced by the local community.

One thing Natural Sequence Farming is consistently associated with is ‘Landscape Rehydration’ using techniques which slow runoff and spread flood waters across valley-fill floodplains. I asked Pete to provide us with an overview of what might be expected from the Mulloon project and to explain how any outcomes will be scientifically monitored. Here, he discusses what this catchment-community project hopes to achieve and why.

Landscape assessment at Mulloon

by Peter Hazell

Just before Christmas Peter Andrews, some landholders, and I undertook initial onground assessment and planning work in the Mulloon watershed. Over three days we visited five properties.  We plan to do at least another 17 days over the next 6 months. Our three days out were also used to test methods for documenting discussions at each location. Continue reading

Practical land repair: what makes sense and what obviously doesn’t

Last Sunday I was delighted to attend a field day organised by the Yass Landcare group. Our hosts for the day, Michael and Denise, have implemented some great restorative improvements on their property not far from Murrumbateman. I will write more on these and other aspects of the field day itself in a separate post, but first I wanted to share something that got me quite excited….

That was to finally see a demonstration of simple biologically-based incision repair. This restorative intervention was planted 18 months ago under the supervision of Cam Wilson and Peter Marshall. All planting material was provided by Peter, as cuttings from trees on his own farm. Check out the photo below and you’ll see what was once a bare and sunbaked incision, but is now a row of young trees growing very nicely.

Yunnan poplars (Populus yunnanensis) growing from the base of a dramatically incised gully near Murrumbateman, NSW.

Yunnan poplar (Populus yunnanensis) growing from the base of a dramatically incised gully near Murrumbateman, NSW.

In this post I’ll provide some background regarding the widespread phenomenon of incision in southeast Australia. Then I’ll describe what was done at Michael and Denise’s place to stabilise and begin to repair this incised flow-line. Finally, I’ll highlight why this excellent work is so novel and wonderful to see by illustrating some other, less-effective, approaches to incision repair observed during my recent research into this topic.

You can be the judge of what works, what makes sense, and what obviously doesn’t.

After reading this post, I’m hoping you’ll agree that officially-promoted “best practices” in land restoration are often perverse and even detrimental. Furthermore, I expect to reveal how nativist perspectives are dominating present work in land repair and to indicate why these approaches are mistaken and in desperate need of correction.

Continue reading