50 members and friends met at Amber Creek Farm on 9th December to inspect the sawmill that processed the logs used construct the tasting room at Gurneys Cidery near Foster. Our lunch was supplied by the Prom Coast Food Collective.
Following lunch Gurney’s Cidery hosted a tasting session while David Coote presented a case study analysing the financial returns to the farmer supplying the logs for the construction of this new icon for South Gippsland tourism.
Since clearing the pine plantation and establishing the first area of biodiverse woodlot (over-wood predominantly spotted gum), I have been unable to establish additional areas of woodlot due to intense wallaby grazing pressure. The first successful year I used wallaby repellent sprayed onto the
seedlings prior to planting. In the absence of other vegetative cover this proved to be satisfactory. However, after 12 months growth of these planted trees and the regenerating native understory, there was sufficient vegetative cover to embolden the enlarged wallaby population to browse anything in the adjoining areas, especially seedlings. On the area planted 12 mont
hs after the first planting of the 1,000 trees planted only 10 survived despite further application of repellent. One area regenerated with natural seed fall (messmate) given the high density of seedlings established.
A local Landcare grant enabled me to attempt to replant two unsuccessful areas testing different tree guarding options together with removing the grassy swarth to encourage understory species to recolonise. One was to erect a “chook-wire” fence 1.5m high to exclude all browsing animals (some rabbits had been seen). This is effective after 24 months (photo 1). The other was to use wallaby repellent and guard with individual guards. A range of
guards was used; green fishnet stockings (photo2) and waterproof cor-fluting (photo 3) were tried (photos after 24 months since planting). The rabbits disappeared after 12 months but the wallabies ate anything that protruded from the guards. I then tried some larger guards after 12 months (photo 4) with the same result although the seedlings are larger and may win in the long term.
The result of not doing anything is again nothing (photo 5).
A second area was fenced off 12 months ago (photo 6) using leftover fencing material and leftover spotted gum. Additional white stringybark and sugar gum were also planted.
Unfortunately we have had an extremely cold winter with over 20 frosts (normally 1 or 2 light ones), many severe. Time will tell what survives and what doesn’t. The plan was to leave the fences up for three seasons but we will review that at the time. In the meantime the original successful plant goes from strength to strength (photo 7).