Paradise Refound?

“It was Eric’s idea not to spray the gorse, and to plant trees which would eventually suppress it. Eric’s a conservationist, and he says we’re here to be caretakers of the land for the next generation. He always says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the next best time was yesterday.”

I know, I’m a miserably bastard and what I put on my blog is enough to make everybody miserable for years to come but really, in the real world I am anything but. 

I see the good things that happen too it’s just that they fall outside the scope of this blog. However this morning while trawling through my usual pile of mayhem and economic collapse aided by bankers and politicians I came across something that brought a smile to my face and gives me hope and I thought I’d share it with you.

Farmers who bring at least part of their land back to it’s original state of paradise. How novel!

To understand why this brought such a smile to my face you have to understand that to a New Zealand farmer, especially to the Pakeha (descendents of the English colonizers) the idea of letting gorse run wild on your country is completely anathema to everything they stand for.

Gorse, in perma-culture is considered a colonizing frontier scrub that grows on bare land such as paddocks and brings back potassium and protection to amongst others the native Wetta thus allowing the land to recover from exhaustive farming methods  preparing it for the reintroduction of native tree species and wildlife.

But gorse growing abundant on farmland also represents the loss of control over what happens on a farmers land and as an introduced species is considered a pest and to let it run rampant on your land makes you an outcast in your community for being “lazy” and a bad farmer.

The funny thing is that when it has done it’s job and natives are growing back it disappears as it can not survive in the forest that they help to form and so by embracing the stigma of being lazy and being bad farmers these people have given their community a long lost paradise and perhaps the seed for more rebirth and recovery from the destruction we have caused in what was a mere 100 years ago still mostly a pristine wilderness.

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As the Taranaki Tree Trust celebrates its 20th anniversary, a couple are welcoming the funding from the charitable organisation towards the redevelopment of their North Taranaki property.

Six years ago Eric and Janine Fowler decided they’d like a change of lifestyle, so they sold their dairy farm at Ohangai near Hawera and bought a 41-hectare property near Urenui.

Almost 12ha of the property they describe as a hobby farm is now in a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenant. The couple graze 140 or so yearling heifers and calves for dairy farmers, and have about 20 beef cattle and a few sheep of their own. But they’ve decided the beef animals are too heavy for the farm’s fine loamy soil, and are gradually phasing them out.

They’ve spent $100,000 of their own funds re-developing the property after consultation with Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) land management officers, with a focus on planting to control erosion.

“We also talked to them about what grows well here,” Janine Fowler said.

“It was Eric’s idea not to spray the gorse, and to plant trees which would eventually suppress it. Eric’s a conservationist, and he says we’re here to be caretakers of the land for the next generation. He always says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the next best time was yesterday.”

Among the funding they’ve received to help with the development is nearly $17,200 from the Taranaki Tree Trust, $5500 from the afforestation grants scheme and $20,000 from the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust as a half-share of the cost of fencing land under the covenant.

“Planting is a costly exercise because you spend at least $5 on each plant (buying and transporting it home) before you even put it in the ground,” said Fowler, a part-time tutor of resource management, human resources and business and finance for the National Diploma in Agribusiness at DairyNZ Training Ltd at Stratford.

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4 thoughts on “Paradise Refound?

  1. Absolutely right!
    Every year our councils insist on spraying the rivers to prevent “flooding” and “erosion”. They spray out the nurse crops so that nothing can ever get established, but the millions of (ratepayer) dollars is money well spent they assure us. So, let’s do it again next year as well. And although council-promoted riparian plantings are a nice idea, in many areas there are tile drains that bypass those areas and go straight into waterways. The entire catchment area needs to be addressed.
    Farmers can protect against flooding and drought — while growing more feed and having more income — merely by the way they graze. The trouble is that most do not know how to graze and start crying after not getting any rain for 3 weeks. In Africa in places they get 10 months with no rain, but can still do this. If you want to understand this the following video is a good place to start:

    The important thing is, of course, to start yesterday.

  2. Thanks for blog today – it is nice to read something inspiring, rather than doom and gloom. It reminds me of my dad who a small paddock with 2 sheep (Salt & Pepper) and 30yrs ago he decided to turn it into native bush. I must ask him if he still has the photos of the transition. To look at it now – you’d think it had always been there!

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