From barren hills to lush forest
What began as barren hills surrounding a reservoir in Victoria’s South Gippsland, has bloomed into a biodiverse and life-sustaining forest. The story of Battery Creek is a remarkable one that proves that with a little nurturing, nature can thrive, flourish, and even throw a few surprises our way.
Located ten minutes from the small town of Fish Creek, Battery Creek was part of the land of the Bratauolong Clan. Its sloping hills were cleared in the 20th century for farming purposes, before being purchased by the water board in the 1980s to provide fresh water for Fish Creek. In 1999, Greenfleet joined forces with South Gippsland Water to revegetate the hills, and continued to plant trees in the area every year until 2009.
The 39-hectare site quite literally provides a measurable insight into the work that Greenfleet does. Over 11 years, 96,000 trees have been planted, and each year’s planting shows an increase in height and trunk diameter. The trees planted in 2000 are now well over 20 metres tall, providing dense canopy coverage.
The aim for Greenfleet and South Gippsland Water was the improve water quality in the catchment, stabilise the steep slopes, and introduce native fauna back into the area, all of which have come to fruition as the forest has flourished. But as always, life is unpredictable, and the project had a remarkable, if unexpected consequence…
A new species is discovered
In 2012, a team of researchers from La Trobe University’s Department of Zoology uncovered an entirely new insect species at Battery Creek. The Bog gum psyllid (scientific name Ctenarytaina bipartite) is a tiny, cicada-like insect that feeds on the juvenile leaves of the Bog Gum (Eucalyptus kitsoniana). According to Greenfleet forester Eoghan O’Connor, “the ability of this new species to survive in a much-cleared area, upon the Bog gum which is such an isolated species, shows how important these islands of forest can be.”
Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata), Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), and Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) grow alongside the Bog Gum, capturing greenhouse gases and allowing the forest to play host to an array of other native wildlife. A 2010 biodiversity study revealed kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and many native birds inhabiting the area, and it is hoped that one day future generations might even catch a glimpse of the elusive lyrebird, as they are known to be in the surrounding area.
Battery Creek remains one of Greenfleet’s most notable forests, and this would not have been possible without our wonderful supporters. If you are not already one of them, offset your carbon emissions today, and make a difference for decades to come: www.greenfleet.org.au/offset