Awareness of the need for tree planting on rural land has been steadily increasing in recent years. People are planting for many reasons – shelter, riparian protection, erosion control, timber, wildlife habitat (including bees), native revegetation and beautification.
The Southland landscape is a diverse and unique part of New Zealand. Nowhere else is quite like it. In 2012 the regional landscape is of plains, hills, grasslands, tussock and forest remnants. How it will look in 2112 depends largely on the people who have the greatest influence - Southland farmers.
An understanding of the natural processes of the land is needed to be able to create a balanced landscape. Nature has her own patterns so to create naturalness we need to follow these patterns in our development. Fencing, tracks, and buildings should be sited to be in harmony with the general terrain and natural features. Tree form should also reflect the landform and regional identity. Woodlots should follow contours and use natural boundaries where possible.
The many reasons we plant trees and the use of different trees for different soils creates diversity. This makes our environment more interesting, more attractive and a better place to live and work in. Once shelter has been established different species can be planted. These may have economic benefits as well as enriching the landscape. Using New Zealand plants is an opportunity to link farm planting to remnant forests, creating and reinforcing regional identity. They can play a major role in shelter planting.
We need to work with the land rather than impose ourselves upon it. Always ask questions – What will happen if I plough those tussocks under, will sheep shelter be lost, how will I control the water runoff? That tree will do an adequate job, but is there another that will do the same job and be more in harmony with the surroundings?
Look around your area – there will be properties with a balanced landscape that enhances the area. Only once we are asking questions and seeking to understand and work with our environment will a balanced landscape evolve.