Bass Coast Landcare Network - From the Ground Up
See the difference landowners can make by restoring their local environments. Hear from Bass Coast Landcare Network Executive General Manager, David Bateman, and the people he’s supported to make their properties better places to farm and live.
[Sounds of birdsong and footsteps walking on soft earth. The camera follows a man walking alone through the bush.]
[On-screen text: Paul Speirs, Archies Creek Reforestation Group. Close-up of Paul sitting against a backdrop of trees.]
Paul: Before there were early settlers, before there were farmers, and before there were people like me, right here was the tallest forest in the world – tallest flowering forest in the world. The trees here were simply massive.
[Gentle acoustic music plays. Scenes of Paul walking through natural landscapes, interspersed with close-ups of streams and vegetation.]
Paul: We moved down here 32 years ago. This area was almost totally devoid of remnant vegetation. We had six trees on this 40 acres, and that was better than average. There was a lot to be done and fortunately, we moved here, and there were people both upstream and downstream who had already done a little bit of planting. So we got together with them and started trying to join up the planting.
[Aerial views of grassy hills, with lines of trees running along them.]
Paul: Thirty-five years ago, if you’d been standing here you would have been in a big bunch of blackberries looking at totally bare hills, nothing breaking the horizon, and in less than half my lifetime this has come back.
[Scenes of Paul and David Bateman looking admiringly at the restored natural landscape.]
[On-screen text: David Bateman, Executive General Manager at Bass Coast Landcare Network. Close-up of David standing in the Landcare community nursery.]
David: When you walk into Paul Speirs’ place, walk through his forest there, you just think, this was just denuded and now it’s this amazing forest; why wouldn’t you be doing this?
[Paul and David walk through Paul’s forest. Scene cuts back to David in the community nursery, handling seedlings.]
David: I’ve been working for 15 years now, here at Bass Coast Landcare. It’s probably one of the biggest Landcare networks in the country, if not the world, and we planted 315,000 trees last year, which is awesome. As you can see around here, this is our community nursery. We’re growing 130,000 plants this season and they’ll end up in those projects, just like what you’ve seen at Paul’s, and you can see they’re only tiny at the moment, but they end up being massive. And it’s a great feeling being involved from the start of the projects, and meeting the people, and getting to the fruition of having forests that are there that weren’t there before.
[Scenes of David walking around the nursery, and sitting on the verandah of a man’s house, looking over photographs with a cup of tea.]
David: Bass Coast Landcare having the capacity with our works crew to be able to come out and plant the trees, get the fencing done, get the weed control done – we can just help individuals and groups just get more done on their place. So we’re sort of like a one-stop shop for people who’ve moved to the area, or farmers that have been here for a while and want advice, and just getting environmental work done that makes their properties a better place to farm and a better place to live.
[Close-up of aerial photographs of a dairy farm, showing vast areas of yellow grass devoid of trees.]
[On-screen text: Lew Potter, Bass Valley Landcare President. Close-up of Lew on his verandah.]
Lew: When we first bought this place it was a derelict dairy farm. And we wondered what to do about it in the future, and I got wind of the local Landcare group, which was when I first met Dave. We struck up a bit of a friendship, and an understanding that into the future we could develop the place a little bit better.
[Scenes of Lew and David talking, walking around his cattle farm, and looking at the trees that have been planted.]
Lew: You can see the trees that we planted. Now they weren’t there 20 years ago. That was bare farm land. Since we’ve come here, we’ve recovered a lot of the environmental aspects of the farm, and I think we’ve also encouraged wildlife and birdlife to return.
[Aerial views of a grassy, tree-lined farm, interspersed with close-ups of kangaroos, birds and cattle.]
Lew: And it hasn’t affected the productivity of the farm. In fact, I would suggest that it’s enhanced the productivity of the farm. The cattle are healthier, they’re more comfortable and they’re breeding on, to my mind, in a much more pleasant way. Through Landcare I’ve got to know all of the people in the local community, and it enables all of us to live on and enjoy the environment a bit better than we have perhaps in the past.
[On-screen text: Karl Russo, Landscape Architect. Close-ups of Karl against the background of a restored farm landscape, and a wooden gate with a sign saying “Member: Bass Valley Landcare Group”.]
Karl: We got here in about 2016. We started with a pretty blank canvas and we always saw the potential in it, and appreciated what the valley probably once was before it was all cleared. And so, we sort of had a bit of an underlying mission just to slowly bring that back, but weren’t really sure how it was going to happen, and kind of envisaged it would be a lifetime of planting trees.
[Scenes of David and Karl walking through the landscape, mixed with sweeping aerial views of the property dotted with trees.]
Karl: But I shot Dave an email saying roughly what we wanted to do and he was like, “yep, great. We’ll come up and have a look”. Next minute we’re both up here – we’re standing in a pretty similar spot here actually – looking over the dry, dead valley. And I just kind of said, “as much as we can do, let’s do it”. Dave kind of just grabbed it, and we just had a few massive years of Landcare just taking the reins and organising massive volunteer days. We had 200 school kids here one day, and we planted 16,000 trees in a day. Six years on, we’ve pretty much planted 85% of the property out.
[Close-ups of an echidna foraging, a bird, and a koala in a tree.]
Karl: But now we get to watch it grow and watch the wildlife come in, and we’ve got a mob of 40 plus kangaroos and echidnas and wombats, and all the little birds have come back in, which is so nice. And we spotted our koala back again, which is awesome. We’re just really proud of it and it’s just a good thing to do. We just love doing it and get a lot of joy out of it.
[Scenes of David with Karl, Lew, and in the nursey, cut with shots of green paddocks, and Paul looking up at tall trees.]
David: For me personally, I just feel like there’s not too many more important jobs you could do than just planting trees and creating habitat, and just making an impact on our local area. Currently I think there’s about 17% vegetation across the Bass Coast region. It would be great if we could get somewhere near 30% in 25 years’ time. If we just crack away at 1% a year, we’d get there. One percent is about 300,000 plants, so we’re currently doing it. It would be a great legacy to leave if we could do that.
[On-screen visual: Melbourne Water logo, melbournewater.com.au; Victorian State Government logo, Victorian Landcare Program logo.]
[End of transcript]