TREAT's motto - Right tree, right place, right time, right reason
Adapted from text by Geoff Errey
Take the last one first, why do you want to plant trees?
- create a windbreak (deep, not just a single row),
- re-vegetate degraded land (prevent weeds, erosion),
- stabilise a creek bank,
- provide animal habitat,
- link existing rainforest patches,
- attract birds and butterflies,
- reduce the mowing,
- screen out noisy neighbours,
- display an attractive specimen tree.
All are valid reasons, that will determine the mix of trees you choose. Local trees are what local wildlife lives with and feeds on, so whether you're providing fruit for possums and cassowaries, flowers for birds and butterflies or leaves for tree kangaroos and caterpillars, trees that are local to your area should bring in the fauna that's around. Native rainforest trees in the main outlasted introduced ones in TC Larry (see: TREAT News July 2006).
The Tablelands is not an homogeneous ecosystem, and wasn't even before European settlement. The Regional Ecosystem mapping shows a variety of ecosystems. Three main factors - rainfall (Atherton, Malanda); soil type, (note the change as you come up the Gillies near Heales Lookout); altitude (coastal or Tablelands). Tree species (and the most suitable for your place) vary accordingly. Some will grow across ecosystem boundaries, some are more selective. By choosing trees that occur naturally in your area, they have a better chance of doing well. We saw this with Tallow Woods (Eucalyptus sp) and exotic Pines (Pinus species) in TC Larry - not equipped to withstand foreign conditions. TREAT members and QPWS staff can help you with this information.
As well as previous comments, locations within your block are important. Ensure that trees planted will not have detrimental effects on buildings etc. Proximity to buildings, powerlines, neighbours' fences, and drainage systems need to be considered. There might be special sites, creek edges, road verges and so on that need careful species selection. Probably a good time to talk about the preparation of the place you're planting. The better the preparation, which mainly means getting rid of the weeds that might already be there, the more successful your planting. Trees do better without competition for food, water and light.
Most of TREAT's plantings occur in the Wet season January - March. This saves us a lot of effort if the weather does the watering for us. We suggest you do this at home too, especially if you're planning to plant a number of trees. But planting is the easy part. The other time consuming factor is maintenance - particularly keeping the weeds you got rid of from coming back. Don't plant more than you can maintain.
See the Info notes series for more details on planning, preparing, planting, maintenance and monitoring, and planting in a riparian location: Resources - Info Notes.
Right tree, right place, right time, right reason.
Do your research, prepare well, and maintain.