Landcare’s friends of the bush build a rainforest to save a tree

FROM LITTLE THINGS: The volunteers celebrate their good work at the Schottlanders Wagyu Farm at Rose Valley. Pictures courtesy Landcare Illawarra.
FROM LITTLE THINGS: The volunteers celebrate their good work at the Schottlanders Wagyu Farm at Rose Valley. Pictures courtesy Landcare Illawarra.

An ambitious Landcare project at Rose Valley has set about creating a rainforest on farmland to try and save a fallen fig.

The Moreton Bay fig tree, on a farm inland from Gerringong,  was felled by heavy winds in 2016 but part of it has remained alive.

So with funding from the NSW Environmental Trust, a project has started called Reconstructing Endangered Ecological Communities in Illawarra Farmscapes.

That, says Landcare project officer Richard Scarborough, means replanting native plants to former rainforest land that has been cleared for farms.

BIG THINGS GROW: It was on for young and old as more than 40 rainforest species were planted around the Moreton Bay Fig.

BIG THINGS GROW: It was on for young and old as more than 40 rainforest species were planted around the Moreton Bay Fig.

And in this case, at the Schottlanders Wagyu Farm of Gerhard and Maria Baden, it offered an opportunity to save the fig as well, but planting trees around it that will offer it protection.

To launch the project late last month dozens of community members went to the farm for a major tree planting exercise, beginning with a welcome to country ceremony, and ending with fine foods from local chefs. 

”Where the crown of the tree hit the ground and buried itself it’s developed its own layered shoots – it’s actually put roots down from a branchlet,” Mr Scarborough said. “We’ve now got one main shoot and couple of smaller ones – so that will become the original tree in newborn form.

ISOLATED: The tree in the place where it fell. After land all around was cleared the figs have become exposed and more vulnerable to weather.

ISOLATED: The tree in the place where it fell. After land all around was cleared the figs have become exposed and more vulnerable to weather.

“It’s amazing – it’s virtually starting out life again as a two-foot high piece of tubestock, and yet it’s 300 years old.”

He said many similar figs were vulnerable for the same reason – farm land has been cleared around them, leaving them isolated in paddocks.