Assoc. Professor Lauren Bennett, Ecosystem Sciences, Forest Carbon, School of Ecosystem and Forest Science commented:
"The students were very appreciative of the opportunity to visit the site, particularly as an illustration of multiple practices and issues, and of your willingness to trial various practices and to adaptively manage."
There's 48 students in this year's course.
Some 30 students from the mining and landscape rehabilitation course visited ImLal in March. Lecturer Singarayer Florentine says they had a record intake of 50 this year.
Site was very dry but coping after a month without any rain. Seven sequoias still alive and clearly visible as the roos had eaten al the grass around them.
We saw a record 39 species at ImLal – probably had something to with the weather. It was warm and still, a rare occurrence on most of the seasonal bird surveys.
Principal Research Fellow Dr Lauren Bennett from Melbourne University's School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences brought 42 students to the ImLal site to learn about analogue forestry design principles and the silvicultural management practices we are applying. This was the school's second annual spring visit. Double the number of students came this time. Lauren said the students enjoyed seeing what is often just academic theory put into practice.
They also got to witness the differing viewpoints of Phil Kinghorn and Gib Wettenhall on whether to prune hard or not. There was a lot of talk about introducing mosaic fire burning. Students were curious about whether or not this would trigger a hidden seedbank of orchids and other fire-dependent natives. We'll have to try it and find out before they visit next spring.
Locally endangered serrated hakea (H. decurrens) was planted on the hilltop and has survived the harsh conditions. The hill is actually a mullock heap, left over from the original Imerys quarry. It consists of clay and is exposed to the elements and a marauding band of kangaroos.
To the rear of the line of hakea, you can see self-seeded blackwoods sprouting up across the hilltop.
Not sure how this mix of plants is going to work!?
After three years since she last visited, Tanya and I had a pleasant walk through what have become the avenues of trees and shrubs on ImLal South. She was impressed by the growth rate. The trees and shrubs are really ameliorating the wind, creating calm pockets. It was a cold, windy day, so not a lot of birds around – just the usual suspects of wrens, thornbills, white-eared honeyeaters, wattle birds and a grey shrike thrush.
Gib Wettenhall is interested in how we carry out large scale landscape restoration that involves the people who live in those landscapes. That, he believes, would build truly resilient landscapes.