Land Rehabilitation - Wattle We Doing?
AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH TO ALIEN INVASIVE CLEARING AND LAND REHABILITATION
By Shane Eades | Earth Custodian at Terra-Khaya and Nic Armstrong | Horticulturist
Our Earth Mother carries herself with dignity. Where we clear her naked, she quickly covers herself again with whatever she can germinate to cover her gentle skin/soil. Wattle is a quick growing pioneer species that loves the disturbance of mankind and the baking conditions of full sunlight. Where wattle is clear felled, its seed hastily springs back, thicker than before to blanket our Earth Mother again.
The head-on battle of clearing and regrowth forms a cycle which man cannot transcend without serious chemical and mechanical assistance. This is not the ecological approach.
Black Wattle shies away from the shadows of its fellow trees, as the dappled sunlight on the ground keeps the soil moist and hinders its germination from the heat of the sun. A positive solution to wattle management and land rehabilitation, is to work with it, respect it manage it and not fight it. By selectively thinning out the trees and creating a favourable nursery environment for indigenous vegetation to regrow, we allow the wattles to help us transform their environment until they are no longer needed and cannot grow. Once again Mother Nature is clothed in her traditional garb and her dignity is restored. When you look around at Terra-Kaya and see Black Wattles, acknowledge them as role-players in an ecological transformation rather than an alien invasion. Our efforts to assist this process lie in the selective clearing of Wattle, coupled with the planting of Indigenous and fruit tree saplings. If you wish to contribute to this process, thank the wattles for the shade and protection they have offered Our Mother, and plant an indigenous tree to upgrade her fashion! Wattle is a very powerful force and by fighting, we will only loose – if we change our approach to one of respect, appreciation, and understanding whilst finding use for the resource, we change the whole energy in our challenge to rehabilitate the land. At Terra-Khaya we use wattle for building structures, fences & bridges we make furniture & baskets, we cook, keep warm and heat our bathing water. Decomposing wattle is full of nitrogen and is used as mulch and compost. Many people in the area and South Africa rely daily on wattle for similar reason. Is it not possible that this fast growing, easily accessible resource is helping protect our already threatened indigenous forests from growing human pressure?
We invite you to walk outside and stand in the shade of a wattle and feel how it feels, then move to a piece of open cleared land, feel and observe. If you where the Earth, where would you rather be all day/night, out in the harsh open or sheltered under a tree?
Indigenous trees planted to date at Terra-Khaya: approx. 7000