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Film: Rediscovering the Country

Catherine Stewart

Catherine Stewart

July 6, 2014

Screen shot 2014-07-06 at 9.05.08 PM

Overrun by vine and tree in tangled, useless profusion…” says the voiceover, as a huge wrecking ball and chain drags through virgin bush, obliterating everything in its path. It’s a shocking opening for the new film ‘Rediscovering the Country‘, but the following 30 minutes shows how forest destruction can be turned around in any country. ‘Analogue forestry’ was developed in Sri Lanka but its principles can be applied anywhere, with farmers and local communities working together to transform degraded rural landscapes into biodiverse and commercially valuable plantings.

Whether it’s dryland salinity, erosion gullies, fauna habitat destruction or the loss of essential pest predators, rural landscapes in many countries have been damaged by indiscriminate tree clearing. Not realising how essential trees are in protecting whole ecosystems, land holders of the past cleared millions of hectares and, in many countries, still do.

Fortunately, today many farmers are committed to rehabilitating their land but the cost is huge. At the heart of analogue farming is that the revegetation must materially benefit the farmer by reclaiming currently useless land, by making existing pastureland more productive, and by providing alternative and future income streams from new tree plantings.

This aligns the interests of the farmer with those of the local community, creating a strong bond that supports local revegetation projects. And, to put it simply, it works.

Screen shot 2014-07-06 at 9.31.17 PMMade by Ballarat Region Treegrowers/Australian Forest Growers* and She Oaks Films, ‘Rediscovering the Country‘ shows communities how the revegetation and integration of biologically rich and commercially valuable plantings into farming operations can help tackle land management problems and contribute to rural communities.

Ridgeline plantings rehabilitate lower level pastures, shelter belts protect the surrounding land from drying winds and promote animal health by keeping grazing animals cooler, and native plantings provide a biologically diverse habitat.

In Sri Lanka, farmers are diverted from clearing yet more native forest for banana plants into re-establishing a species-diverse forest, filled with economic opportunities from a broad range of productive plants that thrive in the dappled shade conditions.

The film ‘Rediscovering the Country‘ is 30 minutes long, and it’s time well-worth investing to understand what’s going on.

[ *Get more information from the Institute of Foresters Australia, an organisation that includes Australian Forest Growers is Australia’s only national association representing and promoting private forestry and commercial tree growing interests in Australia.]
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