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Paddock tree project - new hope for woodland birds and farm productivity

Almost 500 new strategically located eucalypt trees are being planted in paddocks around Cowra to reconnect vital woodland habitat for local birds.

Sadly, many of the old, solitary paddock trees still remaining in our heavily cleared landscape are now starting to die off, so replacement plantings are urgently needed.

Mid Lachlan Landcare and the Cowra Woodland Birds Program have recruited local landholders to come to the rescue through a Paddock Tree partnership.

Through the Paddock Tree Project, Mid Lachlan Landcare has been supplying mesh and posts for tree guards to participating landholders, to help ensure the newly planted seedlings have the best chance of survival.

Individual paddocks trees are so important for both biodiversity and aesthetics. Trees are a beautiful feature in the landscape and they are also critical for the survival of native bird species such as the Superb Parrot, the Swift Parrot and all of our owls,” said John Rankin from the Cowra Woodland Birds Program.

"The loss of paddock trees and our woodland environments has meant that a number of our native birds and other animals are declining. Many have become threatened and we are at risk of losing them forever."

Initially, the Cowra Woodland Birds Program supplied funding to purchase seven rolls of heavy duty mesh, which could each create about a dozen tree guards.

“We had such strong demand from people wanting to take part that Mid Lachlan Landcare then purchased another ten rolls of mesh, while the landholders purchased the tube stock and put the guards together in the paddock,” explained Mid Lachlan Local Landcare Coordinator, Tracee Burke.

A further ten rolls were purchased through the Central Tablelands Local Land Services funded ‘Driving Sustainable Land Use’ project, which supportslandholders to engage in improved grazing management practices and advises farmers on ecosystem repair priorities to boost farm productivity.

“We’ve now supplied enough guards for approximately 320 trees, and we know that many landholders are chipping in to their own pockets to buy more mesh and posts in order to extend their plantings,” said Tracee.

“In total we calculate about 500 new paddock trees have gone in this season across the Cowra Shire. There has also been significant interest from people who haven’t officially signed up to the projects, but who are looking at doing similar paddock tree plantings on their properties in the future.”

“It definitely seems that the project is inspiring farmers and other landholders to start thinking about the benefits of paddock trees and how disastrous it would be if the old trees die off, and there are no new, young trees to replace them.”

Paddock trees across the landscape also provide significant benefits for farmers as well as conservation, such as shade from fierce summer heat for livestock and crops, and shelter from winter frosts and wind. Trees and native vegetation also improve soil structure, reduce salinity and provide habitat for bird and pest predators that keep pest species in check.

For more information about the Cowra Paddock Tree Project contact Tracee Burke at Mid-Lachlan Landcare on 0417 799 425 or midlachlanlandcare@gmail.com

Mid-Lachlan Landcare is supported by Central Tablelands Local Land Services.

Media enquiries: Kylie Krause | 0439608370