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Thoughts on a cloudless day

Was that a winter we just had? Is this a spring we are now just getting to the end of? Do we all have to rethink how and when we plant trees? Do we have to think outside of the indigenous circle of plants used for reveg projects due to a drying climate? Questions questions...

The 2006 tree planting season must have certainly been the shortest I've ever experienced. It went up in a puff of 30 degree days sometime late in September. It only reiterates that most important detail about tree planting- be prepared. Plan early, order early, ring contractors early, and in a dry year, spray and plant early. You have to be flexible. There's no point in planting in early October because "that's when we've always done it" if the season is a month ahead of schedule (like 2006). Some of you flatlanders will be saying something like "well if the dry doesn't kill our trees the –3 degrees will! And you're probably right. This planting season has been extraordinary. The big question is, how extra ordinary is it?

Are we to be faced with similar situations in the future? Our climate is changing. No one in their right mind can argue with that! Atmospheric carbon levels are at unprecedented levels which is warming our planet. I believe we are experiencing the effects of global warming at this very moment. And as a group of committed carers of the land, we must do our bit in this battle we find ourselves in.

I can only say that in a warming climate, our role as tree planters is even more important than it ever was. Most of us now understand the on-farm benefits of tree planting (shelter, erosion control, beautification, etc) and the catchment benefits (water quality, salinity control, biodiversity, etc), but our global responsibilities are now becoming more apparent, hitting us square in the rain gauge. We are being challenged to plant trees (and crops and pastures) in a more unpredictable climate. But that is what we must do. The planting of trees as carbon sinks to utilise carbon from our atmosphere is one very important way you and I can do our bit.
So now that the 2006 tree planting season is over, what have we learned from it? How can we get smarter in this ever changing, volatile climate we live in? How about starting with some navel gazing. How are your trees doing that were planted this year? Are they stuffed or are they chuffed? Are they growing? Have some died? Which ones have died? Which ones are thriving? When did you spray? When did you plant? Did you plant earlier than usual? Did you use guards? All of these questions, and more, are going to be useful (no, vital) if we are to continue the successful work of landcare into the future. If we don't learn from this past year and talk with each other about our successes and failures then we will miss a great opportunity to tackle this issue at the local level.

The challenge is OURS.

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