Strathfieldsaye Estate revegetation project

Tom Parry

AN historic farm east of Stratford is set be part of a mass revegetation project.

Strathfieldsaye Estate, located in Perry Bridge, is one of 14 rural properties involved in the nationwide program.

Estate trustee, Pamela Parker, is touting the benefits of the initiative.

Ms Parker says there are two “ecological communities of conservation importance” on the Gippsland property.

“One is the forest red gum grassy woodland community, and there’s a very, very fine remnant of it left at Strathfieldsaye – an area that was never cleared,” Ms Parker said.

“And then we also have the south-east Australian native grassland communities in the east part of the property, and that grassland is also important – it’s been rated as one of the largest most-intact remnants.

“It never was subjected to super-phosphate fertiliser or other agricultural chemical inputs, and therefore the native grass and the associated plants have survived.”

Her hope is that the project can return the estate to supporting wood vegetation.

As part of the project, a combined total of 2.26 million native plants will be established on the 14 participating properties, which are spread across Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.

Additionally, the project has been registered with the Clean Energy Regulator as a carbon farming initiative.

Under the initiative, corporations pay the federal government for “carbon credit units” to help offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

“So they’re buying these credits, and that is funding these landscape restoration projects,” Ms Parker said.

The more trees that are planted, the more carbon is removed from the atmosphere and drawn into the soil.

Ms Parker noted that adding carbon to the soil would confer greater water holding capacity, extend growing conditions for plants and, ultimately, increase the drought resilience of the landscape.

“With improved landscape function, stock and wildlife alike will benefit from the restoration,” Ms Parker said.

She also expressed her gratitude toward Greening Australia’s Gippsland project manager, Martin Potts, for assisting with the project.

“It’s something (the Trust) couldn’t have afforded, and we’re very happy to have the professional expertise to help us succeed in recovering some of the landscape functions of this part of the state,” Ms Parker said.

Strathfieldsaye Estate was established as a sheep farm by grazier William O’Dell Raymond in 1842.

In 1869, the property was bought by William Henderson Disher, and remained within his family for three generations.

Upon the death of Harold Clive Disher in 1976, and as per his wishes, the property was bequeathed to the University of Melbourne as “a place to develop knowledge and benefit to the farming community”, according to Ms Parker.

In 2003, responsibility of the estate was transferred to the Australian Landscape Trust, of which Ms Parker is a member.

Today, the property is maintained by a team of volunteers from four Stratford families.

A total of 700 hectares of land on the 2100-hectare property has been set aside for “conservation covenants”.

Gippsland Farmer

The Gippsland Farmer is a monthly agricultural newspaper reporting on rural news and distributed FREE and direct to an area covering from Cann River through to South Gippsland. For more than 40 years Gippsland Farmer has reported on a range of issues and industries including dairy, beef, vegetables, sheep, goats, poultry, organic farming, and viticulture.