While our impact on this landscape has been pretty minimal so far, with the completion of our first phase of fencing, we’ve begun more major infrastructure works. We’ve started by fencing off two big chunks of ground encircling the erosion gullies, surrounding them with a roughly 20-metre buffer zone for future woodland regeneration.
In a permaculture sense, these patches of ground will be our Zone 5, our minimal-management ‘wilderness’ zones, designed for habitat and ecosystem services such as erosion and salinity control and water filtration. Abutting our western boundary they form a link with the creeks and swamps that feed the Congeratinga River. With these zones now marked onto the landscape we can plan outwards towards zones of increasing management intensity.
I’m amazed at how much the placement of these fences has reshaped our perception of the property. Where it previously felt like a sometimes-overwhelmingly vast area, now the property is beginning to retreat into discrete zones that are easier to think about, plan for and manage. While the fences are relatively permeable for wildlife, they will also hopefully provide a mild deterrent for the more voracious eaters of young trees and support the natural regeneration of these areas. Now that cattle have been off the property for a year, we’ve begun to see areas of native grasses and rushes rebounding inside these fenced zones. With protection from some Fort-Knox-inspired tree guards (wire mesh and star-droppers), trees that had been gnawed down to the dirt are exploding with new growth.
At the recommendation of other local farmers, we opted for an 8-wire fence that uses a combination of barbed and plain wires rather than the more commonly used ‘ringlock’ fencing wire recommended for sheep. This 8-wire combo is apparently suitable for both sheep and cattle, with barbed strands placed at strategic heights to deter overly curious livestock, while also allowing both deer and kangaroos to pass through without trashing or digging under the fence as they may do with the less-flexible ringlock. We spotted a group of kangaroos inside one of the fenced reveg zones curiously nosing around the new fencelines. After flashing us a few dirty looks, they wandered off to escape through the boundary fence, another fence constructed on similar lines. As for the butterflies, they don’t give a damn.