When Mary and Rob moved to their 16 hectare block at Mt Vincent they thought it could do with a few trees. Nestled between the Watagans and the village of Mulbring the block was an ideal opportunity for them to realise the dream of self sufficiency.
"When we first moved here there was practically nothing here, just a few old trees. We came from a bush block and decided that it needed trees, so we started on the roadway" says Mary.
Mary and Rob soon had orchards and vegetable gardens established and ran a small herd of cattle on the land. As keen plant propagators and Landcare members Mary and Rob also quickly established a screen of native trees along their roadside as the first of many native plantings on the property. But over time it became apparent that the location of the block presented opportunities not just to provide for their own needs but to become a critical linkage to allow native species to move and so survive in the area as well.
"The Stepping Stones project contacted the secretary of our Landcare group and let us know that there was money and help available. Gabriel (Anderson) came and saw us and said that because we were in an important link the project would be happy to put some plants in to join up the farms in the area", says Mary. "I already had the plants up and I didn't really want plants from other places because I like them coming from local stock but we really needed some help with fencing and they gave us money and help with that"
Mary and Rob's efforts on their farm is now able to join up with efforts on neighbouring farms to create a bigger benefit for the environment than can be achieved by working alone.
"Our group is trying to link up the Wattagan Forest behind us with corridors all the way through down to Brunkerville and Wallace creek. On our farm we are linking this section through to Simons forest down the back." Mary added.
The Stepping Stones project is part of the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative and is working on restoring critical links in the Hunter Region.
“Working in the Brunkerville and Mt Vincent areas has been fantastic. The enthusiasm and interest from landholders has led to the Stepping Stones project working with over 20 properties in the region. Many of these properties border each other or are close by meaning they have a real opportunity to create regional corridors – and they are doing just that.” As Stepping Stones are established and habitat improved landholders will be hoping to see more wildlife including birds such as the Critically Endangered Regent Honeyeater at their places.
"The Stepping Stones team have been very supportive and very easy to work with. They have encouraged us and helped us with money for fencing and that's allowed us to create important linkages as well as stopping erosion and improving water retention on our land" Mary concluded.
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