Why Paddock Trees?
Scattered paddock trees are disappearing from our landscape.  Many are more than 100 years old and when they die they aren’t being replaced naturally because self-set trees are grazed by stock and so don’t get a chance to become established.  Paddock trees provide shelter for birds, bats, insects, reptiles and mammals.  They also support agricultural productivity through helping manage salinity, improving soil properties and providing shelter for stock.  It is therefore important that they be replaced.

Grant Funding
In May 2016 HCLG was awarded $89,990 exc GST by the NSW Environmental Trust to cover the planting in the Hovells Creek area of 1,500 paddock trees within individual stock proof guards over the three-year period 1 Sept 2016 to 30 August 2019.  The formal project title is “Habitat Restoration at the Grassy Box Gum – K2W Flyways Interface”.

The Approach
The trees are to be planted as linking trees to provide connectivity between existing patches of trees and shrubs.  Guidance for the planting layouts is based on a series of 13 Habitat Connectivity Plans prepared by a consultant, Susie Jackson, for individual properties in 2016 and 2017.  The objective is to plant paddock trees at 30-50m intervals within a 50m or even 100m wide corridor, so that birds can use them as a bridge between existing patches of trees and shrubs.  Actual on-farm layouts may be modified from Susie Jackson’s original plans to take account of specific on-farm land use requirements.

2017 Plantings
A bulk order for rolls of tree mesh and steel posts was placed in late-2016 and was distributed to members in early-2017.  In addition to the mesh and steel posts members are also provided with bulk grant-funded tube stock trees, weed mats, canes and plastic protectors by a local nursery.  The original grant commitment was for 500 trees to be planted per annum across 10 properties.  However, with careful buying of materials and some redesign of the project, the current plan is to plant 684 trees across 21 properties in 2017.

Advice to members on tree planting has been provided through provision of a set of planting notes plus a list of recommended tree species for the various types of land where the trees are to be planted eg valley flats, granite hills and lower slopes.

To date lack of rain has been a major obstacle and as of early-August 2017 the ground was still too hard to facilitate planting, although some members had planted with the assistance of augurs, digging bars etc.  This means most planting will occur late in the season which introduces a risk factor if spring and early-summer prove to be dry and hot.

Planned 2018 and 2019 Planting
Monitoring of the results of the 2017 plantings is being undertaken by HCLG’s Landcare Support Officer (LSO) and a report is to be submitted to the NSW Environment Trust by end-November 2017.  The 2018 and 2019 plantings will then be planned, taking account of any lessons learned from 2017.  Members will only be provided with trees and tree planting materials in 2018 and 2019 if they have met their 2017 planting commitments, unless there were good reasons for their not having done so.

JRB  10 August 2017