Cressfield's Conservation Conscience
10 December 2013
In 2008, Wayne Bedggood, Cressfield General Manager, was invited onto the Great Eastern Ranges steering committee as a Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association representative. The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative is a landscape scale conservation corridor that stretches from the Grampians in Victoria to far north Queensland along the mountainous regions of eastern Australia.
A conservation corridor is any protected and maintained tract or parcel of land that can link up to another like area for the movement of native species, both flora and fauna. The aim is to establish these connecting corridors along the eastern escarpment so flora and fauns can move unimpeded.
Cressfield was seen as a prime candidate to lead the way as a ‘role model’ for other farms. By maintaining a conservation corridor, it is believed improved water quality, soil profiles and the reduction in invasive non- native species can also occur.
Maintaining the corridor requires Cressfield to manage more closely their grazing practices and the re-stocking of pastures with a shift towards hardier native species where possible.
Cressfield has a number of environmental initiatives in place. We have set up 12 bird monitoring stations. An innovative exercise that we hope will tell us about the health of the Cressfield environment and whether improvements that have been initiated are beneficial to the local ecosystem. It is assumed that the healthier the environment the higher the numbers and more diverse the species of birds will be. There have been several endangered species observed on Cressfield as well as several threatened species.
There are also several Property Vegetation plans in place with the Catchment Management Authority. This involves in-stream works as well as riparian works involving the elimination of invasive, exotic species and the regeneration of native vegetation. Cressfield’s own on farm native nursery supplies a lot of stock for this exercise and it is all propagated from local plants.
Several hectares of River Red Gums with local provenance have been planted in various locations forming our own Ecological Endangered Community, to see if the natural stands of these particular trees along with the shrubs, grasses and trees that co-habit with them can be recreated.
These initiatives have seen a phenomenal amount of native regrowth in a relatively short time around Cressfield, so far proving a huge success. Ongoing challenges exist for the vegetation, including the impact of the rising number of feral animals. A problem for which we are seeking advice from local authorities.