‘Vegetation management is choking everything out’

Amby grazier Peter Joliffe says thickening vegetation more destructive than clearing


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Peter Joliffe, Walhallow, Amby, on his cleared land beside the heavily timbered part of his property.

Peter Joliffe, Walhallow, Amby, on his cleared land beside the heavily timbered part of his property.

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Amby graizer Peter Joliffe has been forced to watch as untouched thickening vegetation slowly takes over his family's property.

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WHEN Peter Joliffe’s grandfather, Mort Hamilton, first settled on the family property near Amby in 1937, the land was mostly open cattle country with some scattered trees.

Today, only a third of the 11,735 hectare property, Walhallow, is not being overrun by vegetation. 

Some of the unproductive timbered country at Walhallow.

Some of the unproductive timbered country at Walhallow.

The destructive nature of thickening vegetation is one Mr Joliffe doesn’t want to see go unnoticed after witnessing untouched trees thicken and choke out any nature and grazing features on the land he purchased with high production value in 1971. 

Walhallow is made up of 3833 hectares of forestry lease and 7902 hectares of freehold lease in undulating country of varying soil and timber types.

Mr Joliffe beside an old fence post his grandfather established in the once cleared area.

Mr Joliffe beside an old fence post his grandfather established in the once cleared area.

It was Mort who decided to freehold part of the property following conflicting management tactics from government departments, the Land Department wanting him to improve and the Forestry Department wanting him to leave all Cyprus pine seedlings.

During a valuation in 1971, Walhallow could run one beast to 32 hectares with observatory comments that “a lot of new timber” had grown since it was selected in 1936. 

The cleared country at Walhallow.

The cleared country at Walhallow.

Currently Peter and his wife Sue run 500 Santa Gertrudis breeders and their offspring on just 4000 hectares of the property that is cleared and productive.

Despite their best efforts to provide supportive feeding for cattle running in the thicker country, it has become nonviable.

A map of Walhallow.

A map of Walhallow.

“Once you lock land up, you have taken our ability to look after that land,” he said.

“The only land we have got out of 12,000 hectares is 4000 hectares. That’s the only stuff that I can maintain in a healthy matter, the rest of it is slowly but surely choking itself out.”

Often the benefits to sustaining nature are a common argument against clearing but Mr Joliffe said it was only thanks to man made water points that things like kangaroos were visible on their cleared land and ducks swam on their dams. 

Mr Joliffe wants to be able to sustain his land in the best way possible.

Mr Joliffe wants to be able to sustain his land in the best way possible.

The threat of Labor strengthening vegetation management laws concerned Mr Joliffe so much he encouraged his two sons to get a trade rather than relying on a future on their land.

“It’s about sustaining this land,” he said.

“I’ve got children, I’ve got grandchildren. It doesn’t matter how hard I work here, I can’t maintain my improvements on the land to keep it sustainable. Once I lost that, as I said to my boys, you have got no certainty for this future on the land. 

“The Maranoa is being strangled because of vegetation.”

Peter and Sure on the edge of their timber and cleared country.

Peter and Sure on the edge of their timber and cleared country.

He appealed to the Labor government to study the truth about vegetation management before bringing in legislation restricting the ability of graziers to manage their land in a healthy, productive and sustainable way. 

“State forest is exactly the same as when we are breeding livestock,” he said.

“We put too many cattle in a paddock, they will be all poor, if you put too many trees in a paddock and you don’t maintain them or thin them, you will not grow a miller log in 200 years.” 

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