Planting parties key to success on small properties

In a family first, on the morning of Sunday 22 of May, Burra landholders Rachel Clarke and Lee Georgeson hosted neighbours, friends and family for their first ever planting party.

The trees and shrubs were provided through a partnership between Royalla Landcare Habitat & Wildlife Recovery Project supported by Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife with Greening Australia Bushfire Recovery Nursery with over 34,000 trees planted between Bredbo, Michelago , Burra & Royalla. The project was ambitious for small landholders – with a minimum allocation of 500 plants in tree lines or stepping stones of at least 20m wide.

Rachel was initially surprised by the number of trees.

“We have done a few plantings before, but no more than 200 trees. When we heard the minimum was 500, it became clear that we would need some help if we wanted to be part of the project. In the end we had about 25 or 30 people come to help us plant.  I was so surprised and delighted that so many people were happy to slave away on a Sunday morning, but it was a stunning day and everyone loved it! The kids had a ball, as well.”

“Another planting party was in progress in nearby Michelago on the Saturday. Belinda Sierzchula, of Michelago Landcare received 600 trees under the program. A last-minute call on the day yielded 28 locals, friends and family members keen to plant.”

“We were a bit disorganised – we just put a call out on Facebook on the Saturday morning and were so happy that people showed up. We had a barbecue and bonfire when we had finished – it turned out to be a great day,” Belinda said.

Royalla Landcare Chair and project organiser and champion Maryke Booth said that many people on small holdings don’t realise how much they can do.

“We allocate 410 plants (140 trees 270 Shrubs ) per acre in the project, so even if you are only on ten acres you can plant between 2000-4000. It all helps in restoring habitat and creating connections between different patches of vegetation. People have been extremely keen to participate – we had 34 landholders participate in this project on some 100 acres planting some 34,000 of trees & Shrubs.

Apart from wanting to help restore the local Yellow Box woodland, there were social benefits from the plantings, Rachel said.

“With so many events and gatherings being cancelled with Covid it was really wonderful to get people together again- and in an outdoor environment that felt really safe. It was a lovely Autumn day and it felt healing – with so many trees and so much bushland destroyed in the fires, it was wonderful to be able to feel like we are doing something to try and help.”

Both Maryke and Rachel commented that small landholders have to be part of the solution to both climate change and biodiversity loss.

Small property owners have a role to play here. We live in heavily cleared environments, but most people don’t rely on the land for income, so they have more options for restoring their on-farm vegetation. We all drive cars and have impacts on our local environment, but this project shows we can have a positive impact, too.” Maryke said. Rachel agreed. One day I’d love to look out my window and see every hillside in the Burra region covered in trees like they should be– it’s my dream.”

Rachel Clarke


Image courtesy of Kate Lea-Perry