Reading the Landscape – It’s More than Meet the Eyes

My visits to Lynton’s Farm & Greening Australia at Aranda

By: Thiva Douangchanh / u5109463

😀

Studying in another country, not to mention in another hemisphere, with different landscape and climatic conditions means that I have to question and adjust my own belief very often. Back when I was in the Lao PDR, a country characterised by tropical monsoon climate, I often came across cloudy ponds and landscapes heavily covered in thick shrubs and trees, so much so that I used to think they were rather messy and dirty. Rarely had I come across a vast green grassland like I often see in Australia which I used to believe was a healthier looking landscape. Becoming a student at the Fenner School and having the chance to visit many local farms, my understanding of a healthy landscape has changed to a large extent, making me realise that reading the landscape is more than meet the eyes.

In my own backyard, many types of plant can be grown without much effort and care. That’s probably why I used to overlook the need to conserve.

In my own backyard, many types of plant can be grown without much effort and care.

In March I spent two days visiting a Lynton’s farm in Carwoola to analyse the conditions of his farm dam and the neighbouring dams up and down the drainage line. As part of the analysis of the quality of each farm dam, the farm management practices, the types of vegetation surrounding the dams, and the animals present in and around each dam were observed.

As I was digging up the top soil to analyse the soil pH and stability, a couple of friendly horses were happily munching on the grass nearby.

I was digging up the top soil to analyse the soil pH and stability.

Lunch break! Selfie with the friendly horse.

Lunch break! Selfie with the friendly horse.

Despite having a vast green grass cover, the lack of shrubs and trees present means that the land is vulnerable to erosion.

Nutrient poor soil with inadequate vegetation cover prone to erosion.

Nutrient poor soil with inadequate vegetation cover prone to erosion.

In order to deal with the issue of erosion, Lynton planted trees on the hill (as seen from the back of the picture) which reduce surface runoff and serve as a wind break. He also built a small water break along the contour lines (as seen from the middle of the picture).

In order to deal with the issue of erosion, Lynton planted trees which reduce surface runoff and serve as a wind break. He also built a small water break along the contour lines

Many farmers such as Lynton have their own nursery. Others obtain seedlings from organisations such as Greening Australia, one of whose offices is situated in Aranda which I visited this month. While I was there, I had the chance to participate in the weeding of seedlings and interact with local volunteers.

Hard at work. In the process of weeding the seedlings.

In the process of weeding the seedlings

Freshly weeded! Well done for today.

Freshly weeded seedlings

Wonderful Australian hospitality. Enjoying a morning tea break with other volunteers.

Morning tea break with other volunteers

The interaction with the local volunteers has strengthened my understanding of the value this small but important group of Australians place on their landscape – the same lesson I obtained from my visit to Lynton’s farm. I guess it is not so much about the skills I have learnt during the days I spent working at these two places, but rather the change in perspective and attitude I have towards conserving the environment, something I have to keep on reminding myself as I return to my country that, although the land, water, air and climate there might be different, they still also need proper care and attention.

=D

=D

 By: Thiva Douangchanh / u5109463

 

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About Biodiversity Conservation Blog

I am an Associate Professor at The Australian National University and convene a (very awesome) course called Biodiversity Conservation. Myself and students in the course contribute to this blog.
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One Response to Reading the Landscape – It’s More than Meet the Eyes

  1. Thanks for your unique perspective Thiva. Phil

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