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Corymbia Farm – home to “one of the rarest and most extraordinary” creatures

Corymbia Farm – home to “one of the rarest and most extraordinary” creatures

Last month, Greenfleet planted more than 26,000 native trees and shrubs at Corymbia Farm, a private property in West Gippsland, Victoria. The owners, Simon and Simone Taylor purchased this well-kept, virtually treeless farm with two main goals in mind: to swap the hustle and bustle of city life for a quieter life and to restore a substantial area of the land to its pre-farm status.

Through discussions with Greenfleet, the Taylors discovered that by working together we could achieve their initial goals and also capture carbon emissions to protect our climate. They were delighted to be able to protect the steep hills of their property and help conserve the extraordinary species inhabiting the site.

With a young family in tow, the Simon and Simone are embracing life in Gippsland. As they build their forever home, they have also taken on livestock management, while ensuring the unique biodiversity of the site remains intact.

Indeed, Gippsland is home to the endangered Giant Gippsland Earthworm (scientific name Megascolides australis or local name Karmai taken from the Bunwurrung language). As David Attenborough points out in his 2005 documentary on earthworms, it is “home to one of the rarest and most extraordinary of all earthworms.” Found nowhere else in the world, the earthworms’ habitat is restricted to a small area of west and south Gippsland.

First records of the earthworms come from the 1870s when farmers were surveying land across the Moe-to-Bunyip railway line along Brandy Creek in Warragul, Victoria. Initially, the worm was thought to be a snake, as it can grow up to three metres long. While locals were aware of these unique creatures, they were rarely seen as they live entirely underground in burrows. With a high amount of haemoglobin in their blood, they can survive with little oxygen.

The Giant Gippsland Earthworm has come into closer human contact, as a consequence of development such as road and house construction. Properties with treeless land and steep hills like Corymbia Farm are found to be vulnerable to landslides, which disrupt the earthworms’ habitat and threaten the endangered population.

Revegetation is a tried and tested approach to preventing landslides, and planting trees and small shrubs on slopes assists with protection of earthworm habitat. While our trees mature and act as a natural carbon sink, their roots will also improve soil quality, protect against erosion, and reduce the site’s vulnerability to landslides.

In consultation with Dr Beverley Van Praagh, Australia’s leading expert on the Giant Gippsland Earthworm, the trees have been planted strategically to protect earthworms from both direct damage and longer-term habitat degradation. They will also ensure the soil moisture remains consistent around the earthworm colonies.

Earthworms can live for a long time, possibly more than 15 years, and have a distinct flushing or gurgling noise which is their signature tune. Should you ever end up in the Strzelecki ranges, fear not the mysterious sound, but embrace it knowing that you’ve just encountered one of the most unusual and rarest species in the world!

As part of the species mix for this project, we planted Strzelecki Gums, which are endemic to the Strzelecki Ranges, where Corymbia Farm is located. Classified as a threatened species, it’s become our mission at Greenfleet to bring back these glorious trees, which also provide home and a source of sustenance to our iconic koalas.

As it grows, this newly planted forest will help protect habitat for our unique native wildlife, preserve the landscape, prevent further landslides, and tackle climate change. By 2038, this forest is estimated to have absorbed over 28,000 tonnes of CO2-e – that's equivalent to removing 6,700 average cars off the road for one year. This is what tangible climate action looks like.

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