Protecting paddock trees

By Jamie Salter

The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s Paddock Tree Guard project has been trialled through the Gecko Clan Landcare Network’s Goomalibee Landcare Group.

A small group of people gathered at a Goomalibee property recently to learn about the project.

Gecko Clan Landcare facilitator Kerri Robson said farmers understood the value of paddock trees for productivity and wildlife and local Landcare group members were excited to be part of the trial.

“They were eager to see how the guards were put up and used,” Ms Robson said.

“The trial is a great opportunity to fine-tune the project and test the guards before the project is rolled out more widely to other Landcare and conservation management networks.”

The tree guards reach 1.8m tall and are 0.7m in diameter to withstand pressure from cattle.

Each guard is secured by three to four steel posts by clips or wire and can can be removed when the guarded tree is strong enough.

A Goulburn Broken CMA campaign declared 2019 the Year of the Paddock Tree.

The authority’s Janice Mentiplay-Smith said the campaign accentuated the need for paddock trees across the catchment.

“We are rapidly losing these big, old iconic paddock trees that provide so much shade and shelter for stock, provide habitat for wildlife, help maintain healthy soils and simply look beautiful dotted across the paddocks,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.

“Fencing off large trees is of course the ideal way to help preserve them, but it’s often not practical to do so.

“As well, sometimes it’s too late to save the old trees, due to processes that are accelerating their deaths, such as drought, the effects of climate change and damage by stock.

“By protecting newly germinated trees with these purpose-built tree guards, we can ensure the next generation of paddock trees.”

The initiative is part of the Linking Landscapes and Communities project, supported by Goulburn Broken CMA through funding from the Federal Government’s National Landcare Program.