The protection and planting of a very rare, grassy woodland; one of our Sustainable farming practices in action.
Here at Austin’s we have a goal to place the sustainability of our vineyard management at the forefront of our practice. We hope to inspire others by raising awareness around new farming processes that can assist in caring for the earth for future generations. One of the key areas that we are currently focussing on is protection and planting within a very rare, grassy woodland that is located on our property.
What is grassy woodland?
These beautiful spaces are in rapid decline and consist of Eucalypt woods, a ground layer of mixed herbs, sparse placement of shrubs and an understory of rare grasses. These grasslands originally extended across huge areas of the state and are today exceedingly rare. Less than 5% of the original areas remain and a more upsetting 1% are noted by Greening Australia as intact and of high diversity. Luckily for us, we were approached by staff at Corangamite CMA to highlight the importance of this protected area. This has ignited Richard Austin’s passion for caring for the environment and educating others about the effective biodiversity that occurs in these environmental communities.
How we are restoring the natural biodiversity
The team at Austins are working towards protecting the grassy woodland from weeds, grazing and human activity whilst they restore the area’s natural biodiversity through planting and education. Richard has been working hard to reduce invasive weeds and to allow nature to provide homes for insects and small animals by leaving fallen logs on the ground. The area’s native vegetation has already been expanded with a future focus on planting more natives that produce pollen and therefore attract the necessary pollinators such as bees for future fertilisation.
The grassy patch is home to tiny little microbats which play an important role in the functioning of this rare ecosystem. They eat large quantities of insects, including mosquitoes and agricultural pests which is fabulous for the nearby winery. Incredible birds make this space their home along with a plethora of minute insects. This biodiverse melting pot also has enormous benefits to the vineyard’s focus of reducing the use of pesticides to protect the grapes. Richard invites any keen birdwatchers to get in contact with him as he is keen for the birdlife to be documented so that the Austins family know what beautiful species call this patch their home.
The site is regularly monitored by the Arthur Rylah Institute who assist the Austins family by providing information on the ecological research of the woodlands, the relevant plants required and any biodiversity issues that may arise.
We hope that in the near future, expert naturalists or student naturalists will record the flora and fauna that live in the woodland creating more awareness to the importance of protecting what is left of these incredibly rare environmental spaces.
Austins Winery acknowledges that we gather and meet on the traditional land of the Wadda Wurrung people and we pay our respects to their Elders past and present – the Traditional Owners as well as Aboriginal people from all over Australia who have been long-term custodians of the land in this region.