We’ve started work on our Sallywood Swamp Forest Restoration Project. It’s a big deal. Sallywood Swamp Forests are a Critically Endangered Ecological Community in NSW – and they’re only found on Lord Howe Island. Over 95% of the original forest coverage was destroyed by grazing, and only a few patches remain.
In 2018, Pinetrees partnered with the Lord Howe Island Board to seek funding to restore a large patch of Sallywood Swamp Forest in the Pinetrees back paddock, and in 2019, we received $100,000 from the NSW Government through the NSW Environmental Trust. We’re also contributing an equal amount.
The restoration project requires a fence around one hectare of floodplain (including corridors that link to existing World Heritage forests), removal of weeds such as oleander, kikuyu and thistle, and the planting of over 6000 trees and palms that are typical of the Sallywood Swamp Forest community. Of course, it’s easier said than done. The combination of drought and invasive kikuyu will be a challenge, but we’re hoping to use our treated greywater from the lodge to irrigate the seedlings and help them through the first ten years until we get to ‘canopy closure’. Once the forest floor is mostly shaded, we expect the remaining kikuyu to die, and the new Sallywood Swamp Forest should resemble something very similar to the original forest on the project site. All going well, by 2030, we will have doubled the amount of Sallywood Swamp Forest on Lord Howe Island (and on the planet).
Stage 2 of the project will commence in 2021 and restore another one hectare patch of Sallywood Swamp Forest to the south of the current project site. This forest will connect with the lowland forest in Edies Glen, which was lovingly restored by the Friends of Lord Howe Island – a bush regeneration group – over the last 20 years. Otherwise known as “weeders”, the group members were long-standing regulars at Pinetrees through the winter months, and had a well-deserved reputation for “pulling more roots” than other Pinetrees guests (and talking about it with complete strangers).
Thanks to the JobKeeper Program, we’ve been able to re-deploy our chefs and kitchen staff to the Sallywood Swamp Forest Restoration Project. They love working outside! Our Executive Chef, Al Nicolson, grew up on a farm on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Despite coming to Australia to escape farm work, he had no idea that COVID-19 would require the use of his hidden talents – he can swing a mattock, build a fence, milk a cow, dispatch chickens, fix stuff and ride a motor bike. It’s a perfect skill-set for lockdown on Lord Howe Island. Over the last month, Al along with Jim, Dennis, Alexis, Dave and Mitja have built a solid electric fence and removed nearly 1000 square metres of very thick oleander – all under the watchful eye of Cameron Kirkpatrick, our Head of Buildings and Grounds. We should confess that none of this would have happened without Macca (and his chipper), Shane Deacon (and his fencing skills) and the expert advice from Hank Bower from the Lord Howe Island Board.
Meanwhile, the Lord Howe Island Nursery is ‘hardening off’ our first 5000 seedlings ready for planting over winter, and that’s when the serious commitment will begin. It’s hard to imagine digging 5000 holes, and then weeding around 5000 seedlings for the next ten years. It’s kind of mind-boggling when we think about the number of staff hours required, but with the right help from the Lord Howe Island Board and bush regeneration volunteers, we’ll convert a large chunk of our back paddock to something very special.