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Planting a Love Letter to the Future

It’s not a very interesting photo till you know what it is.

clear creek

This is the culvert crossing our creek after over a month now of pretty non-stop rain and several floods. The next crossing down is so brown that you cannot see the bottom and the river as it runs through town is the colour of cocoa.  But this one is clear.

Marine ecosystems are under such huge pressure that they are collapsing world wide.    Our children are unlikely to be able to go fishing and catch fish for dinner easily.  Our grandchildren may not be able to afford to eat fish at all.  A study published in the peer reviewed journal Science recently warned that “all commercial fish and species could collapse by 2048“. That’s within my lifetime.  My grandfather used to be able to take his fishing rod down to the ocean at his shack at Bribie, near Brisbane, and reliably come back with dinner.  My grandchildren may not ever get to experience catching and eating  fish at all. So so sad, so unforgivably irresponsible.

Climate change is the big threat, with its concurrent ocean acidification.  But pollution, habitat destruction, overfishing, and leaks from oil and gas extraction are up there too.  And one of the big sources of pollution is turbidity, which means brown water after rain, where soil has washed into it. It’s caused by bad agricultural practices and by clearing along creeks and rivers.

From winter 2000 to winter 2003,  I spent most Saturdays and a fair few Tuesdays clearing lantana and planting a forest along several kilometers of degraded creek frontage.  Already, a decade on, I can see the effect in a creek that runs clear even after flooding rain. Landcare work can seem like a drop in the ocean. It can seem so long term and so little that you think, why should I bother, unless everybody does it makes no difference.  Like much of what we consider doing for the sake of the environment.

But for me, every time I cross that creek, I feel happy and hopeful and capable of making a difference.  And very proud of us – Rod and Franky and Wally and John and Alex and Casey who stuck it out for the whole three years and all the others who worked on the project from time to time.  I hope your grandchildren get to eat fish.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • narf7 March 13, 2013, 6:11 am

    What a generous and heartfelt love letter to our children’s children :). I, too, languish that it only took 100 years of industrialisation to totally screw up our earth. The fact that we are consuming ourselves into our own oblivion would seem fitting if it wasn’t so horrific an act to be shoving onto our unborn grandchildren’s frail and unknowing/undeserving shoulders. The money makers and policy holders of the world are hell bent on destruction ONLY because they won’t be here to taste its bitter gaul. There is a special place reserved for them but that isn’t any consolation to future races who can only marvel at our rampent stupidity. Kudos to your small team of earth warriors from Northern Tasmania 🙂

  • narf7 March 13, 2013, 6:12 am

    Er…that’s “Kudos FROM Northern Tasmania” not that I think YOU are from Tassie 😉

  • Tracey March 13, 2013, 9:20 am

    What a wonderful thing – to be able to see the difference you’ve made. I read this post to my husband and kids. Meaningful, important and heartwarming to see that change is possible.

  • Monica Engel March 13, 2013, 3:53 pm

    Very well expressed Linda and it makes me feel like getting back to the Robertson Environment Protection Society working bees. My excuse is keeping the CTC doors open, but maybe I can leave a note on the door letting people know where I am instead, they might join in! Some of the plantings on Caalang Creek are looking pretty good.

  • Linda March 13, 2013, 3:56 pm

    Lovely to see you found the blog Monica!

  • Kris March 14, 2013, 3:05 am

    Here unable to sleep at 3am due to several leech bites & a mind thats a bit too active for this time in the morning. Great work Linda with your creek and I love your blog and your book!.Landcaring is such a positive way to make a difference on so many levels. We can all care for our riparian areas as you & your neighbours have done .The only thing that damaged ecosystems require is a bit of effort for a time until the balance is brought back and the ‘scars are healed’. I have found it to be a way for me to give thanks to the land…very spiritually rewarding and great physical exercise! Previous generations may have scared the land but we are the ones that can help heal it.

  • Linda March 14, 2013, 6:46 am

    Is there anything we won’t wreck for our own gratification! Good on you for all your hard work. I may be naive but I don’t understand how removing Lantana made the water run clear?

  • Linda March 14, 2013, 7:50 am

    Hi Linda, lantana is better than nothing, but it’s shallow rooted and not very good at holding creek bank soil together, and a bit too good at preventing anything else growing. Our creek had been completely cleared and cattle grazed with direct access. They’d made erosion channels and bare ground areas, with big lantana bombes. Our mission was to plant a zone right along the creek with riparian species endemic to here. We didn’t remove all the weed species – we needed to avoid bare ground and some would just be shaded out as the forest grew. The roots of the trees now hold the creek bank and prevent soil crumbling into the creek, and the forest floor filters runoff

  • Joy March 16, 2013, 9:42 am

    A lovely feeling to know you helped protect what so many other elements are trying to destroy. Our savage rain events do not help. We planted along our creek and fenced it from the cows only to have flooding rains pound the bends, taking not only some of our new trees but also very established old sandpaper figs. Some trees planted 4m from the edge of the creek are now teetering on the edge. Anyway, any action is better than nothing I think. If only the adjoining farmers would fence their sections of the creek too. We can set the example I suppose. Good work,Linda. Joy

  • Vanessa September 5, 2013, 11:05 am

    Wow congratulations! Great inspiration as we need to be doing the same here even though the water is our dam it still overflows to our neighbour downhill/stream and so on. We have lantana to clear and some steep banks to stabilise – some tough work ahead. Fortunately our neighbour uphill is also environmentally minded so it will be less of a battle.

    Glad to see you’re already reaping your rewards with beautiful clear water.

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