Looking for ways for his family to help during the bushfire crisis, We Are Explorers’ founder Henry took his crew on a tree planting adventure in Northern New South Wales.
With over 10.3 million hectares now burnt and over 1 billion animals perished, the alarm bells have rung loud and clear; we’re now staring deep into the eyes of a climate emergency and drastic changes are required at a local, governmental and planetary level.
The immense spirit of Australians has shone brightly in this darkness though. As conditions improve in some areas, incredible initiatives have launched across the country as we navigate ways to help – be it with an empty esky or a good ‘ol fashioned road trip.
If you’re looking for ways to help then you should read this.
It’s Tree Planting Time
One of the most effective things we can do right now is replace the trees that have burned. Restoring the forest will help reverse climate change whilst also rebuilding lost habitat for our wildlife.
‘Forests here adapt poorly to fires, and so replanting programs in areas where natural regeneration is unlikely – like here – are essential to get everything back on track.’
I decided to take my wife and two sproglets on a tree planting adventure in Northern NSW after discovering that a fundraising and replanting program had kicked off by our friends at Rainforest 4 Foundation. Together with local non-profit Restore Now, they’re planting 100,000 trees at Upper Wilsons Creek, an ancient and immensely biodiverse valley only 30 mins from my front door where over 5,500 hectares had been burnt at the end of 2019.
Fires burn and forests regrow differently up here in the sub-tropics. Eucalypt, banksia and acacia ecosystems often evolve with fire and regenerate naturally and very quickly, but forests here adapt poorly to fires, and so replanting programs in areas where natural regeneration is unlikely – like here – are essential to get everything back on track.
Now any parents reading this will appreciate that it is statistically impossible to carry out a task with anywhere near optimal efficiency when a small child is in tow. Tree planting did absolutely nothing to buck this mathematical certainty, but engaging kids in a job as immeasurably important as this one seemed like the right thing to do. It was, and boy did it feel good.
With a coating of soil up both arms I blinked uncontrollably, unable to wipe the sting of pouring sweat from my eyeballs. I could still make out our 2 year old, Jet, in front of me though, he was placing a Red Cedar tree in the ground and padding the rich, loose earth around it with all the precision of a lung surgeon. It’s possible that this tree will grow up to 60m tall and outlive his kid’s great-grandchildren. A wild thought given the plant’s fragility.
With 6 month old Luna wrapped around Susi’s front we together planted around 100 trees in our sesh, including Pink Euodias, Bangalow Palms and Blue Figs. These will ultimately extend the homes of 25 threatened species in the Wilson Creek area, including birds (the Wompoo Fruit-Dove and the Sooty Owl), mammals (Little Bentwing Bat and the Koala), amphibians (Loverridge’s Frog) and one of the best-named snakes in Australia, Stephen’s Banded Snake.
Kelvin from Rainforest 4 helped Jet wrestle the hosepipe and Michael from Restore Now then led us a few metres up the hill to where the fire reached – an area which only a few weeks before had been where volunteer firefighters had held the front line to prevent further destruction.
So how can you get involved?
Rainforest 4 are raising $1 million to immediately plant 100,000 trees, and you can donate now. A $10 donation will plant and care for your tree for three years to ensure survival – this includes the cost of propagating and growing the trees in the nursery, site preparation, planting and maintenance of the trees, to ensure they all survive.
You can come here and help plant too, but tree planting initiatives exist across the country, so see if you can find one in your local area. Take kids with you – if they’re not yours, best ask their parents first! It’s a fun and meaningful adventure that creates conversations on a topic that can feel alien and often distressing for many children. They’re our future and the collective, pro-active changes we make today determine how bright their future is.