How Protecting Biodiversity Connects the Past, Present & Future
It’s easy to spot a variety of native flora & fauna as soon as you arrive at Tinja (Wiradjuri Country). Cockatoos, galahs & rosellas chirping loudly from trees, while kangaroos & wallabies graze on a multitude of native grasses. Every colour of gum tree standing tall, buzzing with stingless bees and shading hidden ground crawlers. Yet, this is only a glimpse of what it once was.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of all life on Earth. As the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) explains:
‘Biodiversity’ comes from two words: ‘biological’, which means relating to biology or living organisms, and ‘diversity’, meaning a range of different things or variety. Biodiversity is the variety of all living things: the different plants, animals and microorganisms, the different genetic information they contain, and the varied ecosystems they form.
Today’s agricultural practices on Tinja are all based in regeneration. Biodynamic preparations encourage microbial activity, healthy plants and liven the soil. Organics ensures this plant & animal life isn’t killed off and growth patterns occur naturally. Permaculture practices such as multi-species cover crops throughout our vines and pastures work to increase biodiversity, store carbon and feed the microbes that in turn provide nutrients for strong, healthy plants.
In areas of the farm heavily impacted by erosion following excavation in the 1800’s and subsequent poor land management, we have been working with Nathan Lovett, owner of Naway Yila Buradja, to reintroduce native plants, shrubs and trees endemic to the area.
As part of our mission of Healing Country on Tinja Farm, Nathan has been planting natives such as saltbush, pepperberry, river mint, black wattle and more, as a means of stabilising the land and providing habitat for native birds & wildlife.
Despite many difficult years of conditions for growth on the land, we are once again seeing an increase in native grasses, plants & habitat across Tinja. As David puts it:
The land’s been in chaos the last 10 years, with some of the worst droughts in recorded history, so it’s more important than ever to ensure it’s rich with the right kinds of plants for this specific land. Especially with the recent rainfall, which provides opportunity for new diversity that naturally wants to burst through. We just need to make sure we let it, and keep it when it does.
As such, to both encourage and conserve this biodiversity on Tinja, we have recently entered into a wildlife refugee agreement with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust.
The Biodiversity Conservation Trust’s purpose is partnering with landholders to enhance and conserve the biodiversity of our unique plants & animals on private land across NSW.
Of the 340 hectares of the Tinja Farm, roughly 10% (32 hectares) is now a protected wildlife sanctuary. In perspective, that is almost double the current amount that is used for our vineyards (15-18 hectares).
For conservation purposes, the agreement means this land is protected from interference, meaning nothing is to be added or removed from the area including plantings or livestock.
As such, we selected an area of Tinja that already has “high diversity of native grasses, herbs and forbs and provides foraging and breeding habitat for a range of threatened species. Additionally, the mature trees and vegetation communities in the refuge area provide crucial stepping-stone habitat facilitating the movement of threatened birds and other animals through the broader landscape”.
You can read the full agreement between the BCT & David Lowe (as landholder of the Tinja Farm) here.
For the future
As premium food & wine producers based in regenerative agriculture, biodiversity is key in our pursuit of sustainable operations. It is also crucial to the world around us – as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) summarises, these are the five core values that humans place on biodiversity:
Economic — biodiversity provides humans with raw materials for consumption and production. Many livelihoods, such as those of farmers, fishers and timber workers, are dependent on biodiversity.
Ecological life support — biodiversity provides functioning ecosystems that supply oxygen, clean air and water, pollination of plants, pest control, wastewater treatment and many ecosystem services.
Recreational — many recreational pursuits rely on our unique biodiversity, such as birdwatching, hiking, camping and fishing. Our tourism industry also depends on biodiversity.
Cultural — the Australian culture is closely connected to biodiversity through the expression of identity, through spirituality and through aesthetic appreciation. Indigenous Australians have strong connections and obligations to biodiversity arising from spiritual beliefs about animals and plants.
Scientific — biodiversity represents a wealth of systematic ecological data that help us to understand the natural world and its origins.
We look forward to growing our contribution to the biodiversity of this Wiradjuri land we call home over the coming years, and hope to share it with you on your next visit soon.
Words by Bronte Currie. Images by Tim White