Tree planting is our primary activity in Australia. We plant trees to reforest cleared land that was once tropical and subtropical forest in Far North Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Reforestation in these areas is essential to support the biodiversity of the region and to expand the forests for their longterm survival.
We grow our trees in our nursery in Mullumbimby and give a high priority to endangered and critically endangered species as well as those that support native fauna.
Trees can, like sponges, help sequester carbon and thereby reduce the impact of man-made CO2 emissions. Locally, trees provide habitat for wildlife, food for people and animals, and stabilise the soil.
Below you can see our dense planting technique, with reference to the size of a ute in the image. Reforesting this way isn't just about canopy, it's at this higher density that we can bring back wildlife - with complex ecosystems established quickly.
STEP 1 SEED AND WILDLING COLLECTION
There are around 450 tree, shrub and vine species that we must collect for in rainforest restoration in NNSW and there are thousands in the Daintree rainforest. The first step is seed collection and wildling harvesting. Teams in the field identify and collect plant material for us from around the region.
Timing is everything, as with many species the window for flowering and fruiting can be just a few weeks. Harvested material is then brought back to our nursery. (In the Daintree, we no longer grow our own plants and instead work with a local indigenous nursery for seedling supply or the local council’s own rainforest nursery.)
STEP 2 THE NURSERY
Our nursery in Mullumbimby in NSW is a key part of our work, housing eighty thousand trees per year. Throughout the week our team run seed propagation, potting, weeding and other tasks for our volunteer teams. We take special care to ensure we are growing vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species of trees, vines, and shrubs, have a high diversity of native species, and prioritise food and habitat trees for native animals.
If plants are grown from seed, they are set to germinate in a nursery tunnel specific to those conditions until big enough to go into a misting tunnel. If grown from wildlings, they are potted and grown immediately in the misting tunnel to ensure survival. The hot humid conditions of the misting tunnels accelerate grown dramatically, after just a few months in there, plants can go to the shade house. The shade house provides some direct sun, less water and hardens the plants a little more. After no more than 1 to 3 months in the shade house they are taken outside of harden in the full sun with little water before planting. During this growth period, we need to ensure that funding is secure to plant them.
STEP 3 DONATIONS, COLLABORATION, AND PARTNERSHIPS
Every $5 = 1 tree planted. Anyone can give trees through this site. Tree givers from all around the world have donated for the trees we plant!
We also believe that strong partnerships and collaboration with businesses and organisations can encourage the impact of environmental work and conservation while enhancing the social responsibility of businesses, their involvement in greater social issues and wellbeing, and the satisfaction of their staff and customers who are contributing.
STEP 4 IDENTIFYING A SITE & SITE PREPARATION
We work primarily in the Byron Shire of NSW and in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland. We plant on cleared land, along the periphery of rainforest and subtropical rainforest, and on private and public land.
So far, all of the land we plant on was once rainforest before it was cleared for extensive and various forms of agriculture and farming. Today after this use ceases the land is clear or with patchy remnants of rainforest but retains its rich fertile soil and ability to support new life again.
We choose the species for each site specifically to suit the micro climate and variables of the site. The last stage is drilling holes in preparation for planting events and installing fertiliser and water crystals into those holes. These crystals are then soaked in litre of water to swell into a jelly that holds water for weeks on end and will give the plant a long term drip feed of water. Every time it rains, the crystals will absorb water and hold it for the trees, rather than letting it drain away. This and the fertiliser encourage their growth for years.
STEP 5 PLANTING
When we have a site prepared, trees funded and grown, we are ready to host a planting. We usually reach out over facebook or Instagram to invite people to our events, which attract anywhere from 25 to 100 people. Thousands of trees are planted in just 1 hour. We always plant at least 50 species on a given day and as many a 120 thus far on a single day. Our team ensures everything is in place for the day, water, refreshments, shade and more. Trees and mulch (if any) are all laid out over the site so that volunteers can go about planting the trees rapidly and easily. They won’t need to dig any holes. Not all our planting events are public due to site restrictions that may pose safety risks for the public attendance.
STEP 6 MAINTENANCE
ReForest Now has several forms of maintenance agreements. Sometimes we look after trees ourselves, on other sites the landholder must care for them, contractors, government teams from National Parks or otherwise. Trees are planted very densely to reduce the time to create canopy. They are planted anywhere from 1.4 to 1.8 meter spacing between trees to speed up canopy closure to around 3 years, at which time, grasses and weeds have a hard time competing and the ecosystem can start to restore itself fully.