Case Study - Agroforestry

11. Lewisham: Creating habitat for invertebrates and birds through native species infill planting

Download PDF
Tasmania Map

At a glance

Owner Rae and Lindsay Young
Property name Lewisham
Location Northern Midlands
Property size 1025 hectares
Enterprise Merino wool

Key points

  • After 40 years of planting native vegetation, dense ground cover is a key focus.
  • Planting a variety of species has attracted a variety of beneficial insects, spiders and birds.
  • Biodiversity and conservation have been the main motivations for planting.

Background

Lewisham is a merino wool production farm owned and operated by Rae and Lindsay Young. Lindsay is a third-generation farmer whose family have been on the Northern Midlands property since 1942.

Rae and Lindsay have been planting trees, shrubs and grasses at Lewisham for over 40 years, enhancing the biodiversity of their land and connectivity with neighbouring sites. Their goal is simple: to bring back native insects, spiders and birds through dense revegetation.

Quality, not quantity

The guiding principle for revegetation at Lewisham is to focus on the quality of the plantings, rather than the amount of area being covered. In an open white gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) woodland with exotic pasture grasses and no natural recruitment, Rae is re-establishing ground and mid-story vegetation layers by planting grasses, shrubs and trees in very dense clumps.

‘We’ve got to stop worrying about hectares,’ says Rae, ‘if you walk in a natural area, plants are not two metres apart. So if I’ve got a 10-hectare site, I’ll put everything on one tiny spot and then keep going. That’s a really fundamental thing.’

Any given year could see Rae plant up to 12,000 plants across 50 different species, grown in her own nursery with seed collected on her farm: all with the goal of creating habitat invertebrates and birds.

‘I’m trying to get biodiversity back, which is always in the ground cover,’ says Rae, ‘so I grow different species, with different flowering seasons, different nectar and pollen, to attract a variety of insects and spiders. Everything else will follow.’

Protect what you have

Rae stresses the importance of farmers identifying native vegetation on their land and protecting it. At Lewisham, Rae and Lindsay fenced off a paddock to remove the browsing pressure from sheep with little idea that, years later, it would become a thriving patch of kangaroo grass.

‘Fence something off, do nothing, see what happens,’ says Rae. ‘If you have an area that is native, just protect it.

‘You cannot ever get back native vegetation once it’s gone, so it should be really important for farmers to think about.

‘It’s costly to plant native vegetation and a poor apology for what was there in the first place. I’m inspired by nature and try to copy that as I plant, but protecting as much as you can should always be the first priority.’

Shared responsibility

After 40 years of planting at Lewisham, Rae and Lindsay have seen the benefits of their revegetation efforts and remain dedicated to continuing the journey.

‘It’s a fabulous resource to have. If you sit down for five minutes and watch and listen, you see your plantings are teeming with life. It’s a tiny life, but it’s really important,’ says Rae.

‘We’ve had an alarming global decline in insect populations. So it would be really good to see other people doing revegetation. It’s our responsibility as much as anyone else’s.

‘We should all be putting a percentage of our revenue each year into conservation in some form, whether that’s conserving land or rivers on your farm, or donating money to organisations.

‘If we all did that, I think we’d be in a much better position.’

For resources and advice about establishing and managing trees on your property, contact Pierre Defourny at pdefourny@tasland.org.au.

For resources and advice about establishing and managing trees on your property, visit treealliance.com.au or contact Private Forest Tasmania’s free hotline 1300 661 009