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Author: C. Colley
Source: The Age
Date: 26 July 2015

It may have been a cold and showery Sunday, but the chance to help regenerate habitat for native animals and give a bare paddock a new lease of life was enough to convince about 150 Canberrans to roll up their sleeves for a community planting.

Coinciding with National Tree Day, Greening Australia volunteers descended on a private farm near Murrumbateman to plant about 2500 native trees and shrubs to revegetate the 10-hectare site.

Besides providing habitat, the new plants will also help repair a degraded creek in the paddock and mitigate soil erosion, Greening Australia conservation director Hugh Wareham​ said.

The site was part of the group’s Whole of Paddock Rehabilitation program, which over the past year has revegetated 650 hectares across 19 private and public properties in the region.

“It’s funded by the Australian government,” Mr Wareham said. “They give some money to set aside the land for five years to get the trees and give them a chance to grow and establish themselves, and then [the landowners] can bring the stock back in, usually on a rotational basis.

“It means they get good productive land, the landowners don’t lose the paddock forever but we get trees back in to the landscape.

“It prompts biodiversity, you get the birds coming back – and sometimes you get poorly degraded paddocks, not very productive, full of salt that end up being very useful again.”

Mr Wareham said it could be hard to convince landowners in some areas to get on board.

“We are looking for more landowners for our WOPR planting this season,” he said.

“Sometimes if you get one or two more in a local area, then often their neighbours are interested and follow suit so you end up with a good cluster.”

Mr Wareham said that when Greening Australia was choosing sites for the program, it considered ways of connecting bands of trees together, the location of threatened species, land availability and the landowners’ commitment to looking after the plants.

The mix of acacias and eucalypts planted on Sunday were all grown at Greening Australia’s native plant nursery in Aranda from seeds collected locally.

Mr Wareham said volunteers worked on every stage of the scheme, from seed collection and growing to planting.

“We’ve got something like 3000 [people] on our books so there’s huge appetite for doing this kind of work in Canberra, which is really rewarding for an organisation like us who depends on that support,” he said.

“I think people want to give things back and often people like the very practical work we do.

“Growing trees is quite therapeutic. We get a lot of retired or semi-retired [people], but also lots of families with young kids, like today.”

Read it on The Age