Thursday, October 23, 2008

Natural Forest Regeneration

A kind blog watcher posted this comment recently:
Blogger Small Footprints said...

Hi! This sounds like an interesting project. I'd really like to know more ... what your goals are and how your efforts will protect the rain forest. You have amazing pictures! Thanks for sharing them! Small Footprints October 22, 2008 9:25 AM

In answer to the question: by removing noxious weeds the rainforest will reseed itself, preventing 500000 Mlitres of water eroding the hillside when they remove the pine plantations above us in 10 years time. A blackwood would seed > 1000000 seeds per year, and they will be doing it soon, thus we propagate them for 2 years, as well as let the already established ones take hold. The blackberry we have already cleared is now a rapidly growing fern and tree area in the spring weather. Herbivores dont seem to be much of a problem for the rainforest trees, although we also need to plant additional boundary windbreaks where young trees are more at risk from kangaroos and birds. The rainforest gullies will be used for forest farming of american ginseng and culinary mushrooms which we already have in operation at another farm. I am a newcomer to permaculture but it seems totally logical and I cant believe it is not used to solve many of the worlds current problems, but it is a positive growing movement. See other blog links for some inspiring permaculture sites.

Following is a summary of a short article on regenerating Australian bushland and forest.

Natural regeneration
Edited by Caroline Douglass (Melbourne) and David Cummings (Box Hill)
March, 1999
© State of Victoria, Department of Natural Resources and Environment 2002
Natural regeneration is the establishment of trees by
using seed fall from standing trees.
Fostering natural regeneration is a cheap and effective
method of tree replacement. With good planning and a bit
of patience, abundant results can be achieved with little
effort compared to planting seedlings.

As with tree planting, natural regeneration areas should be
designed to fit into an overall plan for the property.
Remember that the area for regeneration will be
unavailable to grazing stock for 2-5 years. Where grass
growth is prolific, extra precautions against fire may have
to be taken ( for example, ploughed breaks around fences).
Areas frequently used for natural regeneration on the farm
plan are:
• clumps around existing trees in paddocks;
• in the corners of paddocks;
• in rocky or inaccessible areas where planting seedlings
is difficult;
• in sheet and gully erosion prone areas;
• in salinity recharge areas;
• on stream banks; and,
• on used and unused road reserves.
Operations should be timed carefully. The key is to a have
a seed bed prepared at the time of the likely seed fall which
is receptive to germination.

Seed is shed from fruit or seed cases, such as gum nuts,
wattle pods, she-oak and native pine cones, contained in
the tree crown. The crowns should be inspected to
determine the abundance and maturity of the fruit crop.
Generally, green cases are still immature, brown cases are
ripe. It is important that the existing trees are capable of
producing sufficient seed. The amount of seed borne each
year varies with flowering intensity and heavy fruit set
might occur only once every 3-4 years. It pays to monitor
the budding and flowering of potential parent trees to know
when a heavy seed fall is approaching. Ripe fruit will often
shed seed during hot days in the drier months.

Site preparation
Sun light and available moisture are the main determinants
of seedling survival and growth rate over the first 12
months. Absence of weed competition will greatly increase
germination and survival rates of any seedlings resulting
from natural seed fall. Cultivation, use of knockdown
herbicides and sometimes fire can be used to reduce or
eliminate weed competition.
Rough cultivation exposes physical soil to act as a seed
bed, and gives initial grass control. Weed and grass
regrowth is often prolific after such cultivation.
Mouldboard or similar forms of ploughing invert the sod
and therefore provide longer term weed and grass control
on suitable sites. Hard pan bare earth sites inhibit
regeneration, and ripping or deep cultivation is usually
necessary to improve the quality of the seed bed and assist
in early seedling development.
Initial weed and grass control can alternatively be prepared
by broadcast spraying of broad spectrum, knockdown
herbicides (consult your local herbicide supplier). Take
extreme care not to spray parent trees. The use of residual
herbicides can severely restrict the germination of tree
seedlings and is not generally recommended. For some soil
types there will be reasonable receptivity to seed
germination after spraying.Many soil types will benefit from a
light follow-up cultivation.

A seed bed can be prepared by burning stubble or grass.
This frequently results in rapid grass re-establishment. A
light fire may germinate wattle and other long lived seed
lying dormant in the ground. Suitable conditions for natural
regeneration can be provided during a fallow period or
pasture renovation.Resulting seedlings can be fenced
prior to the reestablishment of crops or pasture.

The primary reason why no natural regeneration is seen
around trees in paddocks is the destruction of seedlings by
grazing stock and pests.
Grazing animals will browse young seedlings as they
germinate so protection is essential. Often when an area is
rested from grazing for a number of years even without
weed control, young seedlings will appear around the
existing trees.

The fenced area needs to be located carefully in relation to
the parent trees. Generally eucalypt seed is dispersed about
1-3 tree height equivalents downwind form the crown of
the parent tree. Consider the critical winds for seed fall
when locating fences for natural regeneration. Seed usually
falls with hot, dry winds, often from the north or north-
west in the drier months.
Rabbits and hares will cause great damage to naturally
regenerated seedlings and will usually bring about failure
of the regeneration project. Rabbit proofing may be
necessary with the use of netting. The netting may be
removed and reused in 18 months to 2 years when the trees
are above the browse height of a rabbit. An alternative to
this is controlling rabbits with baiting, fumigation and
warren destruction.

Regeneration clumps will often contain green feed when it
is scarce elsewhere.
The costs of natural regeneration fencing can be
minimised in a number of ways:
• Natural regeneration areas can be located to utilise
existing fences such as in paddock corners.
• The use of rounded clumps eliminates expensive
strainers and stay assemblies. the clump can be
circular or any other rounded shape.
• The use of electric fencing can also minimise fencing
costs for natural regeneration clumps. Again odd
shapes can be fenced without the added expense of
end assemblies. Solar energisers or ‘lead out’ cables
can be used as power sources.

Follow-up work
On occasions, excess seedlings resulting from natural
regeneration can be transplanted to other sites. Red gum
seedlings 300 mm in height, with the leaf area pruned
back, have been successfully lifted and replanted in the
Western District. Where regeneration is particularly thick
you may need to remove excess seedlings after 3-6 years.


  1. Thank you for the mention ... and the information. I'm just in awe of this project!!

    I know, in a previous post, you mentioned building a temporary kitchen. Are you planning to live on the property? It seems that, with your "humanure" toilet and effort to collect rain water, you're basically living off the grid. Fabulous! "Mother Earth" is smiling!

    Can't wait for the next post ... and pictures!

    Small Footprints

  2. I'm going to be following this project. Fascinating, ambitious, and remarkable!