Veg Quiz
Vegetation Quiz  - Testing how much you know about land on "BURWOOD" Qld - Thanks to Dixie Nott for the photos
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If you would like Dixie`s complete photo presentation - contact Dixie at burwoodcattle@bigpond.com

These two photos are of two different paddocks on the same property, they have similar soil and aspect and vegetation.
Photo 1 - Grassed site



Photo 2 - not so grassed

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The Quiz  (Answers are below the questions)

(1) Which photo shows land that was cleared (ringbarked) in the 1930`s?

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(2) Which photo shows land that has been thinned by tordoning (Chemical injection) since the 1930`s?

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(3) Which photo shows land that is classified as remnant vegetation? Why?

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(4) Which photo demonstrates the effects of overgrazing?

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(5) Which photo shows land in the better environmental condition?

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(6) What should happen to improve the "functioning of the land" that has little grass on it so that more carbon (energy) cycling occurs?


Answers
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(1)  Both sites were ringbarked in the 1930`s

(2)  This was an easy one - The first (grassed site) was tordoned (Some of the trees were poisoned and thinned back to earlier densities) - The thinning was done in two treatments:. May 1998 and March 2001 - note less foliage / less live trees

(3) The second (ungrassed site) is now classified as remnant vegetation because it reached 70 percent of the original vegetation height, and at over 50% density of the so called "original  vegetation".

(4)  Neither site demonstrates overgrazing - the first photo is in a paddock that runs 30 head of cattle in 150 acres.
The second photo is in a paddock that runs 80 head of cattle in 4000 acres, but the cattle don`t graze on this part because there is little palatable grass there.

(5) Depending on your definition of "better environmental condition", You could say the first grassed photo is in better environmental condition because it has more "carbon cycling" via dung and organic matter which for the more brittle climates is an advantage and assists better microbe (decomposing) activity in the soil.
 Of course some could argue that the second (grassless photo) has more trees, is more natural (less exotic species) and is therefore in better environmental condition.
However the true remnant state of this country is open Woodland with thick stands of tall native grasses. The 1930s Ringbarking spawned crops of seedlings which now exist as 'locked up ' forests with tree densities 10x original and low growing sparse grasses which are shade tolerant.

So I would say the first photo shows land in better environmental condition - because it is functioning better, is closer to a balanced density of trees and it will be able to have more animals survive on it.
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(6)  How to improve the land function in areas like the second photo?
(i) Destocking or reducing the stocking rate would be useless to improve the second site, as it is not grazed at present.
(ii) Combining tools that could increase soil disturbance, plant establishment, better water infiltration, and  better carbon cycling (Dung & old plant decomposition) should be the goal.
These tools could include treepulling, blade ploughing, tordoning, waterspreading, stickraking, & animal impact (e.g. dung, urine, & trampling by large mobs of cattle) but as this country is dispersible, gum top box country , it will not tolerate ground disturbance so dozers aren`t used on this soil type. Chemical treatment followed by pulsed grazing is the treatment of popular choice. .

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The third photo (below) shows true(r) remnant vegetation in a nearby area. - Can you see the difference between this and the second photo which is also classified as remnant vegetation


And  finally - Can you see the situation facing many landholders?

Under Vegetation Laws  such as Qld`s
(1) Certain areas of  "remnant vegetation" on private land are not always true remnants
(2) Conservation areas on private land are now controlled so that landholders cannot use tools that "destroy native vegetation " (even if it would be beneficial in keeping the vegetation in a healthy state)  
(3) In many cases "conservation areas" will soon function differently - often with less carbon cycling which reduces it`s health.
(4) For justice to occur forced  "public good" conservation on private land needs to address the lost productivity, lost asset value, declining land health and the decision making & management process for this land.

Leon Ashby
barcoorah@mail.com