Not only can windbreaks around your property reduce the risk of fires, they can also provide habitats for threatened species.
The benefits of windbreaks were discussed at a windbreak plantation design workshop near Bermagui on September 9.
The workshop was coordinated by The Crossing Land Education Trust project director Dean Turner, Far South Coast local Landcare coordinator Chris Post, permaculture consultant John Champagne and Office of Environment and Heritage threatened species officer Chris Allen.
Mr Champagne said the strongest winds were westerly's, so property owners should focus their efforts on planting on the north and west sides of their land.
“Thick plantings will alleviate the wind and if you choose species that are fire retardant it will assist in a bushfire,” he said.
“It can also be multifunctional, it can protect from fire and wind, but food producing plants can also be used.”
It is important to select trees suited to the climate, he said, so mostly natives and preferably from the local area. The windbreaks can act as wildlife corridors, as instead of open paddocks animals can safely move through bushland.
Mr Post said this focus on wildlife corridors also tied in with Threatened Species Week, held from September 4-11, and he had been having inspiring conversations with the workshop participants and coordinators.
“I’m still learning things.
He said not only can windbreaks form a buffer for winds, they can also create mirco climates for food orchards.
Mr Turner said the main points when planting was to chose species that had a chance of reducing the fire risk - ones that had fat leaves with a high mineral content.
Some examples were the cabbage tree palm, many acacias, kurrajong and some she oaks. While they still burn, they are less likely to catch on flame easily and that will help slow the progress of the fire.
Mr Turner said the best design involved trees planted in order, with the first row small and on the leeward side, second row medium then tall trees on the windward side.
Embers from a fire will then become trapped, but there will not be a “ladder effect” of embers travelling into tall trees and it will reduce the speed of the fire as well as possibly taking some of the heat away.