4 September 2023

A natural fit: Cooma Rotary tree program supports influential grazier Charles Massy's land regeneration

| Gail Eastaway
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Cooma Rotary Club will support Monaro grazier Charles Massy’s regreening project with an Adopt a Tree program. Photo: Charles Massy.

Cooma Rotary Club will join with local grazier Charles Massy to help revegetate the property Severn Park next month.

It is part of an ongoing regreening program conducted by the Massy family over many years.

For five generations, Charles Massy’s family rode on the sheep’s back and nearly destroyed their land in the process.

After the drought in the 1980s and ’90s almost sent him broke, Charles Massy switched to regenerative agriculture and watched his overgrazed land recover.

In his mid-’50s, Charles started a PhD, visiting 80 top regenerative farmers to see what they were doing differently. That led to his ground-breaking book Call of the Reed Warbler, a plea to farmers to start working with nature.

Maintaining groundcover by destocking and moving stock regularly is key to regenerative agriculture.

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The groundcover protects the soil and improves its health, while the plants trap water and are home to insects for natural pest control.

Charles was featured in Australian Story on ABC TV in 2020.

The Massy family’s sheep-grazing property, Severn Park, covers about 850 ha (2000 acres) and adjoins Wullwye National Park.

It is near Berridale, two hours from Canberra and four and a half hours from Sydney.

Severn Park’s strategic plan to instigate vibrant biodiversity continuity includes some permanently fenced-off native grasslands under covenant to the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust for regenerating endangered native temperate grasslands.

The Massy family and friends have planted many thousands of native trees and shrubs, starting in the late 1980s.

As a result of this work, and collaborating with botanists and biologists, there are up to 145 bird species (including now-endangered resident woodland birds), many native mammals (kangaroos, red-necked wallabies, wallaroos, dunarts, sugar gliders, southern ringtail possum, brush possum), and some rare reptiles (e.g. the highly endangered Monaro earless dragon), the rare white-lipped snake and more than 145 native grasses.

The Rotary Adopt a Tree program means Charles and the Massy family can continue their biodiversity plantings with a carefully planned approach based on landscape functionality principles.

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Two regreening events, each of 1000 tube stock, are scheduled for two weekends this October to fit in with the busy farming schedule.

The tube stock, comprising eucalypts, acacia, callistemon and many other native species indigenous to the area, will be sourced locally and from the Menai Wildflower Group.

A regreening event of 1000 tube stock is scheduled for 14 and 15 October.

Anyone keen to volunteer to help Rotary and the Massy family is welcome.

Contact Sandra Mortimer on 0429 105 756 for details on how to join Cooma Rotary this October at Severn Park, 579 Black Range Road, Bobundara.

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