There are approximately 35 hectares (85acres) of Forest Farm covered by remnant vegetation including rainforest, sclerophyll and wetland vegetation communities.
There is also the remains of a joint forestry timber plantation on the property which covers large parts of the property with varying density and canopy cover. This plantation was not diverse and consisted of two eucalyptus species Flooded Gum (E. robusta) and Blackbutt (E. pilularis) and Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii).
This plantation was thinned in 2012, quite significantly in some areas and less so in others, leaving only 20% canopy cover in the areas heavily thinned with 90-100% canopy cover remaining in the places left untouched.
One of our crew, Ben is a professional bush regenerator so we proudly use industry best practice techniques to control weeds and stay up to date with the latest information in weed control and bush regeneration.
The standard mix of weeds found across the majority of the northern rivers are present here at Forest Farm.
Woody weeds. (Camphor, lantana, Privet, etc.)
Annual weeds. (Crofton weed, cotton bush, etc.)
Climbers. (Madeira vine, Ipomoea)
Exotic grasses. (Paspalum, Rhodes, Setaria, etc.)
Weed control methods we use here at Forest Farm consist of:
We like to hand pull weeds wherever we can and wherever it is practical.
A very common method of removing larger woody weeds. This method involves drilling a series of holes around the base of the trunk and inject a herbicide/water mix into the holes.
Cut, Scrape and Paint:
We use this method for small woody weeds, approximately 4-5cm or smaller in diameter. This method involves cutting the trunk cleanly off as close to ground level as possible, scraping the remaining bark on the stump and quickly applying a small amount of herbicide/water mix to the exposed cambium layer and cut stump.
This method requires a spray application of herbicide to the foliage of a plant.
The ground layer and understory of these remaining plantation areas is where we are seeing the bulk of the natural regeneration. It is really amazing how many native species are germinating and growing under these trees. Unfortunately along with the natives we get large amounts of weeds as well.
We are seeing great results from weed control activities in these areas, and as the weeds are removed and no longer competing for light, nutrients and moisture, the natives gratefully thrive.
The topic of chemical herbicides is a contentious issue. Particularly when discussing Glyphosate which is the active ingredient in the majority of herbicides used in the control of environmental weeds, both in bush regeneration activities but also the cropping and agricultural sector across the country and in fact the world!
Many people have passionate views on the use and distribution of these chemicals in todays society.
Here at Forest Farm we are not afraid to say that during our bush regeneration activities we do at times use chemical herbicides.
The use of herbicides allows us to achieve excellent environmental outcomes on a fairly large scale in what the bush regeneration industry would consider an acceptable timeframe.
Ben has a chemical applicators certificate and is well trained in the safe and appropriate use of herbicides in a bush regeneration situation.
The Australian Association of Bush Regenerators has a published statement regarding the use of herbicides in relation to bush regeneration activities, it can be found here.
There is also an interesting report written by Tim Lowe for the Australian Invasive Species Council outlining his discoveries when researching the sensitive topic of Glyphosate in response to a continued call for a ban on it's sale and use here in Australia. You can read his report here.