NATIVE birds, reptiles and insects are returning to the beautiful McLaren Flat and McLaren Vale landscape thanks to a biodiversity project that involves a proactive partnership between the City of Onkaparinga, vignerons and TAFE.
Fred Howard is winemaker for his family’s Dogridge Wines and was delighted when 20 students from Noarlunga Tafe’s Conservation and Land Management course arrived at his McLaren Flat property last month to plant 600 shrubs and trees.
"These plants have been propagated by council from seeds that have been harvested from a native scrub that’s within a mile fromhere", he said.
"The benefit for growers is that the birds and insects will be more interested in the native plants so they’ll leave the vines alone.
"It’s simple - it’s protecting vines from pests and bringing back the balance.
"A sound ecosystem results in less damage and less reactive management of viticulture - which means better grapes, which means better wine. Everyone wins."
Tafe lecturer Mareya Dashorst expects native fauna to return to Dogridge environs within three years when the plants would have matured into a self-sustaining ecosystem,interconnecting with other native plantings along Pedler Creek, tributaries, roadsides and
the Gemtree wetlands.
"We’d like to put back what’s been taken away in the area and create wildlife arterial corridors," she said.
"There are only remnant areas of native scrub left in the area but with the help of wineries it’s been rejuvenated."
This creates micro-climates which are good for all areas of agriculture
Encouraging landholders to engage in the project has not been difficult at all, Mareya said,who works with several wine companies in the region.
"Many local growers have already adopted sustainable viticulture and operate using that philosophy.
"We’re now working together and seeing the benefits for the environment, for the wineries and our students," she said.
Adam Richards comes from the Pitjantjatjara Lands and said: "What I’m learning I will take back to where I come from".
"I’ve learned how to collect seeds, weed out harmful plants and know what chemicals are bad.
"I want to be a role model for the young ones."
Adam and fellow students volunteer with the council’s biodiversity unit to undertake environmental tasks such as removing weeds, in particular feral olives, replanting local indigenous species and managing the existing remnant vegetation.