Nature farmers

Tuesday 21 September, 2010

Boolcoomatta Reserve

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live and work on a remote Bush Heritage reserve?

Emma and Peter Ashton live a pretty different kind of life to most of us – they live on our Boolcoomatta Reserve, surrounded by vast treeless plains, silvery grey saltbush and prickly acacia shrubs.

'There is such an incredible sense of space out here,' says Emma. 'On a clear day we can see the curvature of the earth because we have a 180-degree view to the horizon.'

The views might be incredible, but they are well earned – Emma and Peter spend their days working to control pests, such as rabbits and foxes, and to encourage rehabilitation and revegetation of native species including the vulnerable Murray swainson-pea.

All this work is aimed at improving habitat for wildlife, including the yellow-footed rock wallaby.

Peter and Emma AshtonHusband and wife team Peter and Emma Ashton at Boolcoomatta Reserve.

'I often refer to ourselves as nature farmers,' says Emma, 'because we live in much the same way as any farmer but without the stock or crops.'

Wildlife often visits the homestead, which Emma says is wonderful for their children Jarrah and Indigo, albeit a distraction to their School of the Air classes.

'You have to admit, not many students have kangaroos hopping by or emus strutting outside the window,' says Emma.

It's an unusual place to call home, spectacular, yet often harsh and unforgiving. And it's remote – 100 km from the nearest town of Broken Hill.

But Emma and Peter live here because they have important work to do to help protect Boolcoomatta's precious animals, like the plains-wanderer and the dusky hopping mouse.

Emma and Peter feel privileged to have the support of people like you. Your support helps them in their daily tasks of weed control, rehabilitation and tackling feral animals.

Dome Rock Pad at Boolcoomatta ReserveDome Rock Pad at Boolcoomatta Reserve. Photo: Wayne Lawler.

Did you know?

Your support is making a difference on Boolcoomatta, where Emma and Peter have been hot on the heels of the feral rabbit population, with the help of two tireless volunteers.

Wayne Lewis and Kim Ely mapped 1,000 rabbit warrens around the reserves in June, bringing the total number of warrens mapped at Boolcoomatta to 3,000.

Rabbits compete with native species for habitat and cause erosion. Reducing their population is a key part of our conservation goals at Boolcoomatta Reserve.

By Karen Graham

Thanks to the Native Vegetation Council for its support of rabbit control and other crucial conservation activities on Boolcoomatta.

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