Guarding the next generation of precious paddock trees

Tuesday 15 October, 2019
Goulburn Broken CMA has declared 2019 the Year of the Paddock Tree and one Landcare group is jumping on board to protect the next generation of these critically important parts of the landscape.

Recently a small group of people gathered at a Goomalibee property to learn about the Goulburn Broken CMA’s Paddock Tree Guard project, which is being trialed through the Gecko Clan Landcare Network’s Goomalibee Landcare Group.

Gecko Clan Landcare Facilitator Kerri Robson said farmers understood the value of paddock trees for productivity and wildlife so the local Landcare group members were very keen to be part of the trial.

“They were eager to see how the guards were put up and used,” Ms Robson said. “The trial is a great opportunity to fine-tune the project and test the guards before the project is rolled out more widely to other Landcare and Conservation Management Networks.”

The 1.8m tall, 0.7 m diameter tree guards are designed to withstand pressure from cattle. Each guard is secured either by clips or wire to three to four steel posts.  When the guarded tree is strong enough, the guard can be removed and re-used on another tree. A smaller guard is used while the trees are seedlings/newly-germinated to protect them from hares, which can squeeze through the mesh. 

Goulburn Broken CMA’s Janice Mentiplay-Smith said the Year of the Paddock tree campaign highlighted that paddock trees were under threat across the catchment.

“We are rapidly losing these big, old iconic paddock trees that provide so much shade and shelter for stock, provide habitat for wildlife, help maintain healthy soils and simply look beautiful, dotted across the paddocks,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.

“Fencing off large trees is of course the ideal way to help preserve them, but it’s often not practical to do so.  As well, sometimes it’s too late to save the old trees, due to processes that are accelerating their deaths, such as drought, the effects of climate change and damage by stock. By protecting newly germinated trees with these purpose-built tree guards, we can ensure the next generation of paddock trees.”

The initiative is part of the Linking Landscapes and Communities project, supported by the Goulburn Broken CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.