A story about a not so lonely Paddock Tree, but one that is in danger.
Often we look out over ours paddocks and we see a tree standing alone. It looks lonely right? And surely it can’t be that important for biodiversity standing out there all by its lonesome in the middle of a paddock. Mason Crane and Clare Crane from the ANU spoke to around 20 farmers in Humula and Book Book (where?? about 30 mins out of Wagga Wagga) on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st to explain that the paddock trees aren’t so lonely and in-fact are vital to the economic and environmental health of the land….
That paddock tree out there, seemingly on its own, is used regularly visited by birds, bats, insects, cattle, sheep and other animals for resting, feeding, protection from predators, shade, and as ‘stepping stones’ to larger stands of trees and shrubs. Tree hollows, including those in dead trees are used for nesting while fallen timber provides habitat for small ground-dwelling animals such as reptiles. So let me tell you, that one paddock tree out there has a lot of house-guests!
Mason also explained that paddock trees also provide an economic return by providing shelter from wind, heat and cold for pastures, crops and stock. Sheltered off-shears wethers require only about one third the amount of supplementary feed to maintain bodyweight compared to those that are unsheltered. Cold stress reduced wool growth, limits live weight gains and reduces dairy cattle milk yields. Heat stress limits live weight gain in cattle and reduces wool growth in sheep.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Current research indicates that unless the management of paddock trees changes they will disappear from our agricultural landscape forever. Landholders are encouraged to both protect existing paddock trees using fences to reduce stock damage, plant new individual trees scattered across their paddocks or to encourage natural regeneration by limiting stock access.
Oh and hey – there is funding available for people in the Kyeamba and Humula area so what are you waiting for? Go protect some paddock trees!