‘Field of dreams’ 

American (film) version: An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago Black Sox come. 

Australian (farm) version: An Australian wheat/sheep farmer looks out across the landscape and hears no voices (no birdsong, no frog croak, no bat call) and interprets this as a command that she needs to restore natural values into this landscape. She does and, over time, the voices return (a far better reward than a team of baseball players turning up). 

What did she do? Well, there are heaps of things she could have considered, several of which are discussed in this issue of Decision Point. She thinned a patch of native regrowth up in the far south corner to enable the native understorey to take off. She thought long and hard about which new pasture species she was introducing to her property to avoid future weed infestations. She applied for funding to sow native trees into a few of her clapped out paddocks and investigated what she might do to the patch of box gum grassy woodland to sustain its natural values. She considered where she would get the best return (biodiversity outcomes) given she had limited resources (time, money and spare land) – well, that’s a theme behind most EDG research (see Prioritising Restoration in Kalimantan and Allocating funds among restoration actions). 

And then, not only did nature’s voices begin speaking again, but she realised her efforts to restore native vegetation had also added considerable resale value to her property (see our article on private benefits of native veg on private land)

What’s happening in your ‘field of dreams’. Could a little environmental decision science help you reach that dream a little faster. 

David Salt
Editor
Decision Point
David.Salt@anu.edu.au 

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