Many of our project sites in Australia have interesting stories behind the land, and Killongbutta is no exception. This is the story of what this land means, why restoring it and making it thrive again is important and what has been done so far.
Along the inland Wambool River in New South Wales, there once stood a continuous woodland of huge, gnarly Eucalyptus Box trees and Wattle shrubs that stretched for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers. This catchment on the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range was the habitat of the now-threatened Greater Glider, Hooded Robin and Platypus. These are the traditional lands of the Wuradjeri people, who have lived in this region longer than Europeans have lived in Europe.
About 40 kilometers downstream from the regional center of Bathurst, the Wambool, AKA the Macquarie River cuts through Killongbutta Station, an old sheep and cattle run established in the very early days after colonization. This station was cleared in the 1800s to make way for wool and meat production, but it struggled to be very productive in its 170 years. Our Australian partners, Cassinia Environmental, have taken possession of this land so together we can replant the trees that were once there.
In September 2022, we were only able to plant and sow 202 hectares of Killongbutta as we started this project late in the season and seed and sapling availability limited the scale of the first year of this project. This turned out to be quite good timing as this year has been very wet again for this region. About one-third of the property is inaccessible because of the high level of water in the Wambool. This means our plantings have already received excellent rain this year, and we can plant out on the east bank of the river next year when we get more saplings and seeds.
In the meantime, Cassinia staff work on weed and feral animal control and establish good relations with neighboring stakeholders and traditional owners so we can contribute to broader regional conservation efforts and can draw on local knowledge to run an efficient restoration operation. Already discussions have started on expanding our restoration efforts onto neighboring land. By September 2023 the vast majority of Killongbutta will be planted out, which means we will have added some 250,000 new trees to this area. The river will get some reprieve from sediment run-off and feral pig and goat damage and native birds like Dusky Woodswallows, Brown Treecreepers and Rufous Songlarks get to expand their range into new woodland.