This case study was derived from: Hanson I (2003) Case Study 2: Rosanne and Robert Campbell, Goodicum Pastoral Co., Monto, Qld. In ‘Farm Forestry for Green and Gold: Australian experiences of linking biodiversity to commercial forestry’. (Eds D Race and D Freudenberger). (The Australian National University: Canberra, ACT)
Goodicum Pastoral Company is owned by Rosanne Campbell and son Robert. Goondicum, located 30 kilometres due east of Monto in Queensland, comprises 7,000 hectares of freehold and leasehold land. Cattle grazing and timber production are the main agricultural enterprises, with the Campbells running 1,500 head of cattle on average (Brahman cross and Belmont Red cross) and managing 5,600 hectares of native forest. Native forest timber production provides around 20 per cent of their income.
According to Rosanne Campbell, most of Goondicum was ring-barked in the 1920s and 1930s, in line with conditions specified under the pastoral lease. The result was that, by the mid 1950s, the property supported little native forest. The Campbells investigated how they could increase the environmental health of their property and maintain or increase its economic viability. They were particularly interested in the potential role native forests could play in meeting those two objectives. In the 1950s, they decided to return areas of their property to native forest and have been engaged in native forest management activities, including forest establishment, thinning and selective harvesting, since that time. Since 1957, the Campbells have strived to retain as much tree cover as possible, while chemically treating selected areas for cattle grazing and timber production.
“In bad years, if we didn’t have timber we wouldn’t be here. It’s a commercially important proposition to manage our timber so that we can periodically harvest it.” Rosanne says:
Figure 17: Rosanne Campbell and son Robert.
Source: Hanson I (2003) Timber from native forests acts as a buffer in bad years. Case study series: Rosanne and Robert Campbell. Australian Forest Grower. Vol 25 (4).
The property supports six main vegetation communities, with predominantly uneven aged mixed species eucalypt forests, and also riparian vegetation and semi-evergreen vine thickets. Many of the areas are protected and a diversity of species retained. They retain non-commercial species in areas of timber production, recognising their contribution to animal and pasture health and biodiversity (shade, shelter and habitat). Low intensity burns are used as a thinning tool. The Campbells operate on a flexible 15-year logging cycle, with most of the property having been selectively logged over the last 40 years. Areas logged are actively encouraged to regenerate. Cash flow from cattle and the logistics determine the timing and location of harvesting operations. When cattle prices are low, for example, a range of forest products are harvested in order to supplement their income. They do not intend cutting any timber if the income isn’t required.
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In terms of the environment and sustainability, the forests are considered to protect soils and maintain healthy pastures.
According to Robert: “...you definitely get more grass if you leave some trees because of reduced heat stress.”
He argues trees don’t necessarily suppress pasture growth and that it depends on the number of trees. Trees cut down on wind-driven evaporation and some highly productive and palatable grasses grow better in the cooler and more fertile soil under an open canopy of eucalypts.
The Campbells keep their gully and stream banks vegetated and maintain wildlife corridors that extend across their property. They try to leave at least 25 per cent of their timber standing when chemically treating and they endeavour to leave hollow bearing trees and a range of age classes in their harvested forests. These age classes support the sustainability of their operations by way of supplying timber for future use. They fell trees away from watercourses to minimise erosion and reduce mustering problems as well as away from young trees to reduce the risk of damaging future crops. Buffer strips 20–30 metres in width are kept around breakaway gullies. Steep gullies are not harvested. Where necessary, snig tracks are sown with grasses to minimise erosion, as are log landings that are ripped before sowing.
The Queensland pebble-mound mouse (Pseudomys patrius) and three known colonies
of brush-tailed rock wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) occur on the property. The Campbells have made a conscious effort not to disturb the habitat of these species, with some country set aside. The Campbells participate in the Queensland Land for Wildlife Program and Rosanne is a member of the Monto Branch of the Australian Forest Growers.