Mansfield Landholder changes his ways

Monday 6 February, 2006

Mansfield beef producer Gerard Comerford remembers a time when he and his father would ringbark trees on the family property.

But these days, he’s more likely to be planting native trees than pulling them out.

Last year, Mr Comerford was approached by Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority waterways officer Joanne Gaudion to take on a grant to return part of his property to a more natural state.

Keen to replace introduced species with indigenous, he accepted the grant and became one of many landholders in the Goulburn Broken Catchment to change his land management habits.

As part of the agreement with the GBCMA, the willows growing along the Broken River, which runs through his 323 ha property, were injected with poison. Once dead, the crowns were removed.

Rock was placed along the riverbank to stop erosion.

About 2000 native trees and shrubs were planted and Mr Comerford fenced off parts of the river to keep stock off the bank. Two dams were then built as alternative off-stream watering points for stock.

The GBCMA covered the cost of the tree planting, willow removal, two-thirds of the dam construction and between $3.50 and $4 per metre for fencing.

“I’ve always wanted to do something like this,” Mr Comerford said.

“I don’t like willows, they stuff up the river and the stream and they’re not pleasant when dormant.”

Living on the upper part of the Broken River, Mr Comerford is surrounded by spectacular countryside. He sees the river change rapidly during the year. In summer months, the water supply is scant apart from a few pools but in winter it flows strongly.

“You can hear it coming over the rocks,” he said.

“It just roars away.

“Every winter it floods.”

After five years, once the newly planted trees have grown, Mr Comerford will allow his stock back onto the river for a short period of time to crash graze exotic grass growth.

“The work will create a good pathway along the river,” Mr Comerford said.

“I really hope other people can see the benefits and they feel encouraged to do the same.”

He has a dream for the future to plant more natives on his property.

“People just live for today but you have to start living for tomorrow,” he said.

“Attitudes are changing for this generation I think.

“I’ll only be around for about 80 years and I want to do something to make a difference.”

For more information on waterway grants contact Joanne Gaudion at the GBCMA 57 611 556.

Release ends

For more information contact Anna Humphris at Impress Publicity 58 212 651 or email anna@impresspublicity.com.au