Unproductive land offers an opportunity

Unproductive sand dunes in the Coorong, Murraylands and Riverland regions of South Australia will soon be transformed into sustainable timber forests.

The transformation is part of Landcare Australia’s Agroforestry Development Series Demonstration Sites project which aims to develop and share knowledge of silviculture within the farming industry and increase sustainability.

Members from the Farm Forestry Landcare Network collecting seeds to be propagated for planting in unproductive agricultural land.

Launched in September 2017, the project is being delivered in partnership with the Australian Home Heating Association (AHHA) and the Farm Forestry Landcare Network.

Several demonstration sites are being mapped and researched by the Farm Forestry Landcare Network (FFLN) with the aim of establishing plantations of local native species on otherwise unused agricultural land across southern Australia.

Success of the project has huge commercial potential for farmers and the home heating industry. Establishing plantations on otherwise unused land means farmers can diversify their income streams by selling timber for home heating, whilst caring for the environment.

Ian Filmer, FFLN chairman, said the project is a great opportunity for farmers to turn unproductive land into a commercial opportunity.

“Farmers can use sand hill areas which they may otherwise not vegetate and repurpose them into sustainably managed plantations that can generate income,” Ian said.

One hectare of land can be planted with 800 to 1,000 trees of different eucalypt varieties that are native to the area and suitable for short-cycle agroforestry systems.

More than 8,200 seedlings have been propagated and will be ready to plant in July this year.

AHHA, a major supporter of Landcare for the past 21 years, have contributed $10,000 the project.

According to Demi Brown, AHHA general manager, the project reflects a wider commitment by the association to the environment.

“We always recommend that consumers use firewood sourced from sustainably managed forests and plantations,” Demi said.

“Plantations like this are of great importance, not only as a sustainable heat source for Australians but for their many other environmental, social and economic benefits,” said Demi.

Ultimately the FFLN hopes the outcomes of the project will help to further understand how trees can be utilised to benefit landholders, industry, and the local area.

“For us, it’s all about sharing what we’ve learned with the wider farming community and increasing community engagement,” Ian said.

“The possibility of making money is a huge incentive for farmers, but the benefit of this project to the environment and the genetic legacy of southern Australia is priceless.”

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