Good Bush, Inc. : Any guesses on what this company does for a living? Not what you might think, Americans, for a translator is often required for Australianese! (I didn’t understand 90 percent of what the old postmaster said to me today, just smiled and nodded like a good Yank)…
Anyhow, Good Bush is a bush regeneration company, that, well, restores the bush - the native shrubby woodland below a thin canopy of eucalyptus that is ubiquitous in Australia. I learned a bit about bush regeneration and other interesting tidbits as I helped out in Libby’s garden in suburban Turramurra.
Libby is a semi-retired psychotherapist and an organizer of the North Sydney permaculture, a network of over 500 people who live in the northern suburbs and get together to share skills and resources. Over the last two years she has transformed her backyard from a tidy flower garden into a luscious water harvesting food forest.
We were joined for the day by Peter, and man do I wish I had a picture! He was replete with the full khaki suit and outback hat, and as we worked away he shared his experience as a bush regenerator in the Australian wildlands.
He talked about last year’s fires in Victoria, which killed over 200 people and destroyed thousands of hectares of farmland and homes. Apparently Australia has had the hottest decade on record, and they can no longer count on the cool southern storms that used to come like clockwork in the summer, bringing the cool rains.
In addition to climate change, land management practices have altered dramatically as suburbia spreads into the nearby bush, clearing everything in it's path to make space for parking lots, shopping malls, and brick homes.
In the past, aboriginal people who relied on their local bioregion as a resource base managed the bush in order to ensure a large supply of the raw materials they relied on to survive. Though they didn’t farm the land in settlements, they managed the wild in a way that increased the population of the useful plants they relied upon.
Interestingly enough, they used controlled burns as a land management practice. This kept the amount of fuel in the forest at a minimum, and also kept the rainforest from encroaching upon the grassland savannah that they relied upon for hunting. While the natives visited the rainforest to seasonally collect food and medicine, it was the grassland that sustained the population of protein that they hunted.
Sound familiar, any Californians and M. Kat Andersen fans out there? Native people in Northern
California used a similar practice of burning in the oak savannah ecosystem (the NorCal equivalent of the bush), and for similar reasons. Vedddddy interesting...