The Pinkerton Link Story: creating a forest out of nothing!

Pinkerton Link: 2014

On Sunday 6th April 2014 Pinkerton Landcare and Environment Group returned to Pinkerton Forest to plant in Pinkerton Link. Eight people planted a variety of native grasses and Pale Flax lilies. These plants will form part of the understory of the forest that was begun in 2011. In August 2011 Pinkerton Landcare and Environment Group (PLEG) began planting on the bare paddock between Pinkerton Forest and Bush's Paddock, near Mount Cottrell. Pinkerton Forest and Bush's Paddock are separated by an area of land on Melton Recycling Water Plant. The Pinkerton Link project will connect these two woodland remnants.

Many of the Grey Box trees are already over a metre tall and a direct seeded stand of native grass is also over 1.5 metres in height. Although we were kept busy planting, we still observed a total of 11 species of bird. These were Black Kite, Australian Magpie, Brown Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Golden-headed Cisticola, Jacky Winter, Little Raven, White-plumed Honeyeater, Willy Wagtail and Zebra Finch. It is an encouraging sign to see so many birds in what was only a short time ago a bare paddock.


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Tom and volunteers planting in Pinkerton Link April 2014


In September Irene and Daryl weeded the plants previously planted there in April. We noticed that the Kangaroo Grass (Themeda) tussocks were all growing well and even had tall flowering stalks. We also noticed that the Kangaroo Grass was been trimmed by kangaroos. However the grazing had been limited to the new leaves, leaving the tall flowering stalks untouched. These are no doubt the seven Grey Kangaroos resident in nearby Bush's Paddock, illustrating that Pinkerton Link is already providing a wildlife link.

In August Frances and Daryl of PLEG and William of Western Water returned to again at Pinkerton Link. We planted a number of Grey Box in the plot covered in rice hull mulch. We found the soil beneath the rice hulls to be soft and moist, proving excellent planting conditions.

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William and Frances planting Grey Box trees at Pinkerton Link


Planting at Pinkerton Link with students from Westbourne Grammar School, Western Water, Western Land Services and volunteers, on 28th August 2014

On Wednesday 28th August there was a massive planting event at Pinkerton Link by students from Westbourne Grammar School, staff from Western Water and Western Land Services, members of PLEG, as well as several volunteers. A recently retired teacher from Westbourne even turned up, to the surprise of Westbourne staff and students, giving all a chance to reminisce.

We planted as grand total of 1,084 plants. This may well be a record for this site.

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Bacchus Marsh Girl Guides at Pinkerton Link Sunday 31st August 2014

On Sunday 31st August a group of Girl Guides from Bacchus Marsh, accompanied by their Leaders and parents participated in the Pinkerton Link Project, helping us 'grow a forest from nothing! They planted about 100 plants, including Wallaby Grass, Spear grass and four Grey Box trees. Hopefully they may return one day, some years into the future and find a Grey Box Woodland here with native grasses and understory; and reflect on their part in its creation. Again we enjoyed a magnificent sunny morning, with a warm breeze. A fitting end of winter.

We planted in three plots situated at the northern end of the paddock. As these trees grow to maturity we expect them to provide a windbreak against the hoy northerlies that blow across here in summer. This should shelter the plants downwind, protecting them from the frying influence of these winds. Also, as these plants mature and set seed, their seeds will be blown downwind into the paddock, causing natural regeneration of native plants.

The Girl Guides would like to return and plant next year, to once more participate in planting a forest. Planting a forest from nothing is a once in a lifetime opportunity.


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Bacchus Marsh Girl Guides, Leaders and parents planting in Pinkerton Link

The list of groups who have participated in this project is constantly expanding!

Planting innovations at Pinkerton Link

An innovation was the use of several jute mats to combat competition from weeds that grow rampantly in the highly fertile soil.
Another innovation is the creation of a series of 'islands of excellence'. Instead of trying to completely restore the entire 12 hectare paddock, we are concentrating on planting within discrete 'islands' and building up the native biodiversity content, and maintaining these intensively. As these islands are restored the intention is to link them up.

Daryl Akers, October 2014