There’s still 28 of the locally endangered Hakea decurrens flourishing on the top of the mullock heap at ImLal. Everything else is taking a beating from the roos, wind and poor mullock heap soil (or lack of). They seem to have been flowering for ages.
The rain came pouring down as I topped the mullock heap. Drenched, I must admit to descending gloomily to Footrot Flats, a soggy site south of the dam, where I thought our planting had totally failed. Not so – after record spring and summer rains and the warmth that comes with climate change, the hybrid eucs and Turkey oaks were rising from the dead. Many were becoming entangled in their plastic sleeves, so I removed the worst cases. Will now have to check whether or not they're more vulnerable to bouncing roos and ravaging wallabies.
We now have two lots of students visiting ImLal from the University of Melbourne. Dr Antanas Spokevicius included ImLal on a Forest Systems field trip comparing different sorts of forestry management. Some 30 Forest Sciences students listened to Steve Murphy present on the design principles behind a biorich plantation on 27 February, 2020.
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.
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.