The 6.3 ha Granter site was fenced back in Feb 2013 and now it’s being prepared for planting. John Hamilton’s dozer creates three rip-lines up to 500mm deep with each pass. These rip-lines will allow newly planted seedlings to quickly get their roots deep into the rocky ground, as well as capture and store rainfall that may otherwise have run-off (see below for additional comments). It’s a strategy that, if carried out well, has few disadvantages and can give seedlings a big advantage in their first few years.
In the thumbnails (below) Granter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are images of the site from left (NW) to right (SE). While some regrowth native vegetation is present, particularly in the gully and on lower slopes, most of the site is devoid of woody vegetation. The aim here is to recreate an open, sparsely treed woodland that will be home to a wide range of native plants and animals, improve the health of the Allandale Rd catchment and provide enjoyment and learning for the site’s owners, neighbours and community.
Mind you, not every rip-line needs to be, or will be planted to trees. A site’s planting design needs to consider a variety of factors, including for example- topography, soil type, aspect, the physical characteristics of a site, as well as impacts and benefits on the human landscape. Consideration of proximity to houses, sheds and other infrastructure is particularly important, to minimize any fire risk created by new plantings.
These hills have been bare and be-trodden for many decades and the soils would no doubt suffer compaction. Beyond helping plants to become established, ripping is likely to have an overall positive effect on this site e.g. increased water infiltration, reduced runoff, soil development. And the rip-lines will improve habitat quality and diversity in the ground-layer; the soil surface will regain some ‘roughness’ which will undoubtedly be beneficial for many ground/soil dwelling species, both plants and animals.
All images by Steve Joblin.