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From Weedy Forests to Grassy Woodlands


From Weedy Forests to Grassy Woodlands tells the story of a community-led initiative to mitigate forest fire risk using goats and hand tools rather than herbicides, heavy machinery, and burn-offs. On the edge of Daylesford, a town on Dja Dja Wurrung country in Victoria, Australia prone to massive bush fires, a small group of community-minded folk have pulled together to work towards restoring the ecology of their commons forest – in order to stop the future need for controlled burn-offs by the local fire authority.

Burn-offs keep the township safe from out-of-control fires, but they hinder the forest’s ability to regenerate, and thus cannot provide the environment necessary for the diversity of insects, birds and animals that are necessary in a healthy forest on a healthy planet. Restoring the forest also allows for traditional indigenous burns to take place, as the danger created by flammable non-native species has been reduced.

The work being done by the Goathand Cooperative is not only showing stunning results on the forest floor, it’s having much broader effects: the forest’s wildlife is thriving, the goats are healthy and happy, but in addition neighbours previously dubious about the project have come on board, so that new and strong community connections are being made. And as one Cooperative member says in the film, an important re-connection is also being made with nature. “We haven’t always been trammellers of land,” says Patrick Jones. This connection to the soil and to the forest is, he believes, “our way back to sanity”.

From Weedy Forests to Grassy Woodlands offers inspiration to anyone looking for ways to regenerate their own or a commons forest, anyone feeling the urgency of mitigating the potential disasters of forest fires in the most natural way possible, anyone in a locality and position to use goats for that purpose, and just anyone seeking reconnection to the earth that created and sustains us!

Find out more about the Goathand Cooperative:

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Fools & Dreamers: Regenerating a Native Forest
A free 30-minute documentary about Hinewai Nature Reserve, on New Zealand’s Banks Peninsula, and its kaitiaki/manager of 30 years, botanist Hugh Wilson. When, in 1987, Hugh let the local community know of his plans to allow the introduced ‘weed’ gorse to grow as a nurse canopy to regenerate farmland into native forest, people were not only skeptical but outright angry – the plan was the sort to be expected only of “fools and dreamers”.

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  • Marilyn says:

    Great idea, but my concern is that your running your buck with your young/does and how you control your kidding especially does too young to be joined.

  • Lyndon DeVantier says:

    Wonderful story-telling, thank you.

  • Jen says:

    A really lovely film of a wonderful idea and such a surprisingly touching ending. Made me think about the way the crises in our world have real, personal impacts on individuals, even on those who already do so much to care for our world. And that I’m not alone in those feelings. Loved it. Thank you.

  • Arnold Z. says:

    Wonderful film… Bringing home the immense and seemingly irreversible fate of climate crisis into a joyful bowl size opportunity that each person in partnership with Nature has the power to reclaim a healthy landscape in their own little patch of the world.

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