Monday, 21 April 2014

Landcare - Molonglo High Plains

Back in the 1990’s a committee of local farmers, organised around a Landcare Committee, formed in the Hoskinstown-Rossi district.  The group was a mix of old timers who had lived in the district forever, right through to the latest members - farmers and hobby farmers.

The group worked together for decades, through drought and good times, to pool local knowledge and reverse a number of problems inherited from old farming practices.  This led to the development of effective local strategies for integrating pasture and tree/shrub management into day-to-day farm management.

During this time, many people have come and gone.  However the legacy of their work is there for all to see - large areas of the catchment have seen significant reafforestation from trees appropriate to the area, and in some cases grown from local seed banks .

1993-5: Initial years

Initially, Landcare concentrated on attempting to pool and validate local knowledge about the diverse and challenging environment of the high Molonglo Plains.  The area spans a number of different rainfall, altitude and geological zones from higher and wetter Rossi in the east to colder but drier Hoskinstown in the west.

From 1993-5, Landcare researched existing revegetation efforts and undertook water quality, salinity and remnant vegetation studies.  A wide cross-section of the community was involved in a range of projects that initially focussed on validation of species selection but also addressed local concerns about local pests (both weeds and animals).

1996-9: Integrated projects

Armed with the results of this initial testing period, and with strong community support, from 1996 Landcare progressively took on more ambitious projects designed to bring about integrated change within the high plains themselves, ie:
·    to introduce extensive plantings on the Hoskinstown plain (which had previously defied the attempt through bitter winters and dry summers).  This was designed to lead to significant longer-term climatic and pasture changes (first through the Corridors of Green project and then the Greening the Molonglo High Plain project); and
·         to move to protect the High Plains region by co-operatively addressing the significant risks (both pasture degrading and fire safety) of serrated tussock through an extensive program of re-afforestation with other local Landcare groups.

To support the work of Landcare in the region, a number of resources were created for local landholders.
·    On the basis of experience, the community was able to establish better methods of pasture and land management. 
·      Secondly, Landcare ran a number of well-attended community meetings dealing with local species, salinity and new agricultural opportunities.
·       Thirdly, Landcare produced a number of publications including a useful guide to planting native trees in the Hoskinstown area.
·     Fourthly, Landcare arranged a number of site inspections for landholders interested in seeing how these changes can work for them.

Landcare helped foster a new spirit of co-operative involvement between all living in this area.    

Armed with proven local results, many local farms have established their own plantings and assisted the community in road-side plantings or with their own planting strategies.

Today, every area of the district shows the impact of this initial work.  Road side and fenced off plantings have shown steady growth - despite a decade of harsh dry weather.  Pest plants have been eradicated - or, at least, restricted.

Local Sites 1994-9

The summary below gives details of each of the site plantings in the region from 1993 to 1998.  Originally many of the sites were next to or located near to roads.  Some of the plantings were unsuccessful because of extremes of temperature, drought, competition by existing pastures or stock. Later, larger plantings proved much more successful.

Site 1: Corner Briars-Sharrow Rd / Captains Flat Road - 1995 CALM corner revegetation project.
Site 2: 285 Briars-Sharrow Rd - 1996 Demonstration Planting.
Site 3: 557 Briars-Sharrow Rd - 1995 planting (30h, approx 10,000 trees - direct seeding and inplanting).
Site 4: 557 Briars-Sharrow Rd - (3h, 360 trees) - 1998 Corridors of Green project.
Site 5:  Hoskinstown Road - (7,000 trees, clump plantings) - 1998 Corridors of Green project.
Site 6: 1275 Hoskinstown Road - (extends Corridors of Green into the Molonglo High Plain) - 1998 Corridors of Green project.
Site 7: 1442 Hoskinstown Road - 1998 Corridors of Green project.
Site 8: 1444 Hoskinstown Road - 1998 Corridors of Green project.
Site 9: 267 Plains Road - 1995 Demonstration Planting.
Site 10: 438 Plains Road - 1995 Demonstration Planting.
Site 11: 450 Plains Road - 1998 Community Demonstration Planting.
Site 12: 495 Plains Road - 1995 Demonstration Planting.
Site 13: 52 Galvins Ck Road - 1997 (20h remnant reserve established).
Site 14: 114 Rossi Road - 1996 Demonstration Planting.
Site 15: 153 Rossi Road - 1996 Demonstration Planting.
Site 16: 675 Rossi Road - 1996 Demonstration Planting

Additional projects examined local salinity (1996), weevils (1998), weed management (1995-9), alternative agricultures (1998) and pasture management (1996-8).


In the late 90's, Landcare held seminars on regional trials focused on small farming trials in the area, including:

  • Grapes (noting savage winters would restrict varieties)
  • Olives (noting stat up and costs)
  • Berries
  • Woodlots
  • Native Seed collection and propagation

(In different forms, this document was prepared based on local knowledge and published in the 1990s.  Information was drawn from many local people.)

Author: Peter Quinton
Profile: Google

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