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.
Milo Bekin Faries, President of the International Analog Forestry Network visited the ImLal biorich site on a chilly day at the end of April. While he saw the plantation as a good example of analogue forestry principles, he found the cold hard to deal with. Milo hails from tropical Costa Rica, and his week of AF workshops with farmers associated with the Moorabool Landcare Network proved unrelentingly cold and wet. Next time!
Milo's AF farm in Costa Rica applies a ratio of 50% biodiversity to 50% productive plants. He makes much of his income from producing and marketing essential oil products.
Although we have had virtually no rain since the end of October last year ( 3 mths ago), the ImLal biorich plantation has never looked better. Everything was growing vigorously with no sign of dieback at a recent visit. Presumably the swampy site has good soil moisture retention and the site is enjoying a break from frosts and waterlogging over the past two years.
The blue gum (pictured) in the forestry section is growing fastest and is now over 5m in height. Phil Kinghorn has begun form pruning.
There is no sign of seedling growth on the direct seeding site as yet.
Our February bird survey was notable for the lack of Noisy Miners and honeyeaters (both firsts!) and we picked up a pair of Boobook owls in the pines on the edge of ImLal South. Rosellas, which are usually common, were down in numbers. Another first was to observe a large flock of Goldfinches flying back and forth over ImLal North. Over the course of 15 surveys, we have now seen 70 species – see list under Bird Surveys.
Diana Lloyd, a Southern Cross University lecturer is running a sustainable forestry unit and one fine April morning she brought a group of students to visit. A number of the students work with such forestry 'heavy hitters' as Australian Paper, and the Victorian government agencies of DSE and DPI. Two employees from Australian Paper bought copies of Recreating the Country and said they could see how such plantations might suit mining site rehabilitation.
Diana Lloyd reported the students thought the biorich plantation concept was "impressive."
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.