About Ballarat Region Treegrowers
On LEFT: (L-R) AFG Director David Fisken, International Analog Forestry Network President Milo Bekin Faries, BRT Secretary Gib Wettenhall . On RIGHT: BRT President Phil Kinghorn and Federation Uni lecturer Singarayer Florentine.
Ballarat Region Treegrowers (BRT) is the local branch of Australian Forest Growers (AFG), the national body representing farm foresters and private native forest owners in Australia.
In 2004, the BRT hosted the AFG Biennial Conference with the theme of ‘Integrating Forestry into Farms, Communities and Catchments’, which aimed to illustrate the potential of increased tree cover in rural Australia in providing economic, social and environmental benefits. In 2006, BRT held several regional workshops on the theme of 'planting for sustainable landscapes', sponsored by the Central Victorian Farm Plantations Committee and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority. One of these on 'Boosting biodiversity' led to BRT commissioning Teesdale nurseryman Stephen Murphy to write Recreating the Country, which was then published in May 2009 by AFG.
Environmentally, rural Australia is staring in the face of a catastrophe that only revegetation on a large scale can prevent. That won’t happen without the integration of commercial treegrowing into farm and catchment management plans. New plantings would act as carbon sinks, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
Economically, income diversification is essential if landowners are to become resilient. Utilising natural resources by integrating conservation and production would build resilience into both the landscape and those who manage it. Such an approach provides an incentive to landowners to act as custodians.
Socially, 85% of Australians live within 50km of the coast and the rural drift continues unabated. The traditional Anglo European models of monocultural farming and forestry are unprofitable, unsustainable and uninspiring. What they offer are little joy for little return. More complex polycultural forms of rural enterprise that demonstrated a unique sense of place offer outlets for creativity and opportunities to exploit local comparative advantages. If we are to conserve more than fragments, landowners will need to collaborate across catchments, linking land rehabilitation.
What we need are new Australian farm forestry models adapted to indigenous resources, which work within the vagaries of our climatic and fragile natural systems. The BRT believes that the biorich plantation offers one such model.
This website is managed by Gib Wettenhall. He can be contacted for further information by submitting an email below.