Local cane farmer improves natural areas

Giru cane farmer John Cernusco is partnering with NQ Dry Tropics to plant native vegetation along a lagoon on his property to reduce weeds and restore habitat.

NQ Dry Tropics project officer Thijs Krugers is working with Mr Cernusco to plant native vegetation along a 500m stretch of creek bank to curtail weed growth and improve habitat. Lower Burdekin Landcare and Gudjuda Reference Group have joined forces to help with the planting.

This work is part of NQ Dry Tropics’ Engaging and Strengthening Communities project, supported through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

Burdekin Landcare Nursery manager Peter Thomas and Gudjuda Reference Group ranger Tracey Solomon planting native vegetation.

Mr Cernusco said there were a wide range of benefits associated with restoring native vegetation.

“The canopy will shade out water weeds, especially grasses, and get rid of cane eating rats that live and breed in those grasses,” Mr Cernusco said.

“Eradicating the grass will also improve water quality and native fish habitat. The trees will also make a windbreak to slow prevailing winds across the farm,” he said.

Tree species have been chosen for their ability to provide a fast growing canopy cover to shade out weeds, that don’t harbour cane pests, and are quick to recover after burn-offs.  The trees were supplied by the Lower Burdekin Landcare operated nursery in Ayr, and were selected by Ayr Lower Burdekin Landcare Nursery manager Peter Thomas.

“All trees that are being planted have been grown from locally collected seeds. Volunteers collect seeds from various native species in the district and propagate these at the nursery,” Mr Thomas said.

“They also comply with the local council’s and Ergon Energy’s requirements.  It’s fantastic to see Mr Cernusco’s persistence to undertake a challenging revegetation program that in the long term will see environmental benefits and productivity efficiencies,” Mr Thomas said.

NQ Dry Tropics Project Officer Thijs Krugers said this week’s planting would be maintained by the property owner.

“It has been designed with minimal maintenance in mind, including weed matting as well as installing an irrigation system,” Mr Krugers said.

“The NQ Dry Tropics Engaging and Strengthening Communities project supports the Burdekin Dry Tropics community to improve our environment, including our habitats and waterways.

“This planting is a great opportunity to support the community, and for like-minded groups to work together and share knowledge about improving the natural environment,” he said.

Main photo:  NQ Dry Tropics project officer Thijs Krugers and Giru cane farmer John Cernusco.