Bush blocks – or patches of bush on farms – are parts of the landscape that have not been cleared for farming. The land often has low capability for agriculture due to poor soils, steep or rocky terrain or low rainfall. Some patches in more fertile areas have been retained for woodlots on farms or are crown land under grazing licences that do not allow clearing.
People buy bush blocks for a variety of reasons. For some it is a cheap piece of land to buy and live on, for some it is a place for active recreation. But for many it is a place to enjoy and care for the natural bushland and all its creatures.
All bush blocks have conservation values. The old trees and understorey and ground layers provide habitat for a diversity of animals. Larger patches – from 10ha – provide habitat for many more species. And bush blocks can add to larger habitat patches on adjoining land and help to buffer areas of high quality or threatened vegetation.
But bush blocks need to be managed. Logging has left many areas with dense regrowth and little understorey, and intervention is needed to retain water in the landscape, enable the growth of the understorey and reduce erosion. Weeds can threaten to swamp out the native plants particularly on creeklines and other areas of higher fertility.
Bush blocks are vulnerable to bush fires. Fire is a natural process but when people put themselves and their infrastructure in fire-prone areas, fire becomes a threat, and threat reduction can mean destruction of the natural values of the bush block.
Although bush blocks do need some work, owners need to remember the reasons they bought the land and continue to take pleasure in the bushland and the creatures in their care.
What you can do
Actively manage your land to protect and increase its ecological health and diversity – its different structural elements from overstorey trees to rocks and logs on the ground, and its plant diversity. This diversity will provide habitat for a wide variety of mammals, birds and many other wildlife species – including threatened species.
Seek advice (and possibly financial support) to manage the issues on your land. Your local Landcare facilitator is a good place to start – there is support for community actions to protect the environment. Join Land for Wildlife with signs that identify the value of your property and lots of ideas that you can use.
Covenant your bush block. Without a covenant, all the work you have done to protect and enhance the natural values of your land can be lost when you leave – as you will do one day. Covenants are a way to permanently protect your heritage. Contact Trust for Nature for Landowner Support including Conservation Covenants. If you are seeking a bush block, check out their Properties for Sale.