31 January 2017

The Land Regeneration Project - Part 2

Brush cut and more trees added
With no birding planned for the weekend, it was decided to start phase two of the regeneration project. Down the road again to Coastal Hire, the local power tool hire shop. I’m fast becoming a regular customer - hiring chain saws and brush cutters on a fairly regular basis now. 

Brush cutter in hand, and no idea how to use it, I turned to my trusted teaching aid - YouTube for a 5 minute tutorial. [In case you wonder about the efficacy of using YouTube to learn anything, it took me no more than an 8 min video to learn how to ride a motorbike in Peru, before I tackled the Manu Road…] Despite a better understanding of how to deal with the brush pile across the road, I had slightly underestimated the size of some of the herbaceous shrubs, as well as the general resistance of Lantana camara, to a nylon headed brush cutter at least. I found myself spending as much time replacing the nylon cutting strips as I did laying into the 3ft tall morass. Persevere I did, thankful for the cool and overcast conditions. 

Wielding the brush cutter
After some trial and error, I figured out how to more productive - leaving the herbaceous shrubs and laying into the grass and Black Jacks Bidens pilosa, another horrid, pervasive weed from South America. No doubt the neighbours are getting used to 2 stroke engine noise every other weekend, but despite the racket - Meg and I got rather a few compliments from passing joggers and walkers. Having flattened large sections of brush, I had more scope for planting. With 3 bamboo barriers already assembled, I reckoned I had enough energy left to put in the trees, selecting some different species for the river bank edge. The 3rd tree to be planted was one of my favourites, the Forest Mahogany Trichilia dregeana, followed by two slow growing, but excellent montane species, Real Yellowwood Podocarpus latifolius. 

I spent some of Sunday afternoon wielding the brush cutter deeper into the scrub, exposing a few other indigenous trees planted some years before by another resident. Large tracts remain uncut, but the herbaceous nature and size of the shrubs requires a more dedicated effort with a bladed brush cutter.

With potential birding delayed by another weekend, I took advantage and rented the chainsaw again. The prime purpose was to obtain further bamboo to be used for tree barriers. So far, the resident Bushbuck have not made any noticeable attempt to browse the existing trees, but I would prefer not to tempt fate. Many more poles were cut before the chainsaw gave up the ghost on Sunday afternoon - but I certainly have a large reservoir of barrier material to get me through the next few months. No trees are due for planting in the next few weeks though - a trip to search for the elusive Striped Flufftail is this weekends agenda.

Tree 2 Planted    08 January 2017   Senegalia galpinii      Monkey Thorn
Tree 3 Planted    21 January 2017   Trichilia dregeana      Forest Mahogany
Tree 4 Planted    21 January 2017   Podocarpus latifolius  Real Yellowwood
Tree 5 Planted    21 January 2017   Podocarpus latifolius  Real Yellowwood
Tree 6 Planted    26 March 2017     Ficus lutea                  Giant Leaved Fig
Tree 7 Planted    26 March 2017     Rauvolfia caffra          Quinine Tree
Tree 8 Planted    26 March 2017     Senegalia sp.
Tree 9 Planted    26 March 2017     Albizia adianthifolia   Flatcrown Albizia

There is plenty of brush to get through - early days

Putting up the custom built bamboo barriers
Kai is always on hand to help!
Tree number 2
Happy team - 2 trees in, plenty to go
Lantana camara - a beautiful scourge
Sweaty labour this tree planting business - 35 more to go to finish phase 1...

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