April 21, 2020 4 min read
We've got an exciting Earth Day Announcement!
In recognition of Earth Day's 50th Anniversary, we are THRILLED to announce that in partnership with Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife (FNPW) we will be planting up to one million trees in Bushfire Recovery Nurseries in Australia! This is an excellent first step in starting the restoration process where the bushfires occurred. At this time, many areas have still not recovered enough to begin tree planting but that doesn't mean we can't get ahead of the curve and start growing the trees in the meantime!
As you recall, Australia experienced devastating fires at the end of 2019 through to 2020 which burnt 21% of temperate broadleaf and mixed forests. During an average bushfire season, only 2% is burned. In addition to forests and other vegetation being lost, over 1 billion animal casualties occurred. Reforestation is essential in recovering lost species populations as well as rebuilding their habitat.
A Five Year Commitment
The project will be executed in phases over the next 5 years. Together we will begin the process of supplying multiple tree nurseries with seedlings across several locations. Certain precautions and restrictions will be considered due to COVID-19, however the project will be scaled over time and will begin as soon as possible.
In order to ensure the restoration process is as effective as possible, FNPW is in the process of working with local governments as well as community partners to assess areas most affected by the fires. These areas include New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and South Australia. A primary focus is on re-building habitats for species that have been most affects such as the koala and the glossy black cockatoo. Not sure what that second creature looks like? We had to look it up too, here it is! Such a beautiful bird.
All the best projects have a community component and we are positive the Aussies will be ready to step up to help restore their landscapes. FNPW will begin in South Australia using what they call the Community Nursery Model. Often, it is beneficial for restoration projects to have community involvement as it builds a relationship between the community and the trees that are being planted. In the long run, it ensures the trees are cared for and have a chance of remaining in their place for years to come. Community involvement may mean being involved in land preparation, planting, and aftercare. This will also help increase the capacity of trees that local nurseries will be able to care for in order to carry out the revegetation of these areas.
When the trees from the Bushfire Recovery Nurseries are ready to be planted in their forever homes, they will be planted in national parks across Australia in addition to other public and private lands.
Why are Tree Nurseries so Important?
Setting up tree nurseries is a great first step in restoring Australia as it allows us to prepare for planting and be ready to get trees in the ground as soon as the land permits us to do so. But in general, tree nurseries are very important in the reforestation process for a couple of reasons. For one, it allows us to keep a close eye on the trees during their most vulnerable stage so that we can grow them until they are strong enough to make it out in the forest on their own. This can increase the tree survival rate greatly. Second, when trees are grown in a local nursery, they have a shorter travel time to the forest. It can be risky and harmful for a tree to be transported a long distance for a number of reasons such as loss of moisture and being bounced about during travel. Plus, this results in fewer carbon emissions from transportation!
Seed Collection & Nurseries
The nurseries will also allow us to collect seeds in a more widespread and coordinated fashion, supporting all aspects of planting from seed collection to propagation to planting and long-term management. To that end, we’re working with local communities and state governments to sustainably collect native seeds, preserving species that are at risk of endangerment. We’re also educating our volunteers about seed genetics and the importance of protecting the integrity of these unique ecosystems. Thanks to these efforts, we will be able to report to Australian and International seed banks, informing research into the provenance and genetics of the species that we propagate. And whenever possible, we will include threatened flora species in our plantings.
The bushfire recovery priority areas are focused on the following regions :
Here is Ian Darbyshire, the the Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife saying more about this exciting announcement.
We are honored to be working with FNPW and all the dedicated people banding together to help restore Australia. It is going to be a long road to recovery, but with a solid plan in place and a little dirt on our hands we cannot wait to see the trees and wildlife flourish across Australia again. If you would like to support this project please visit our Australia page.
by Kaylee Brzezinski
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