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"By planting trees, individuals are actively instilling hope: the people who are revitalizing urban environments and fostering a sense of community."
Climate Environment World News

“By planting trees, individuals are actively instilling hope: the people who are revitalizing urban environments and fostering a sense of community.”

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Stephen Northey, residing in Melbourne, uses tree planting and urban revegetation as a means of restoring damaged local ecosystems and establishing a valuable bond with his community.

The community leader took the lead in an effort to preserve Edgars Creek, a small stream that flows through the basalt plains connecting Epping, Thomastown, and Reservoir to Merri Creek in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

He states that 17 years in the past, the area along Edgar’s Creek was overrun by harmful weeds.

However, there was a hidden waterway running through a scenic rocky path with small areas of surviving plant life. I believed the location deserved improvement, so I arranged a meeting at the nearby community center to gather interest. As a result, a community group was established.

The 8m high cliff along the Edgars Creek in Coburg North, Melbourne, Australia

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After a first meeting, residents put in numerous hours of unpaid labor, utilizing solely native flora cultivated from gathered seeds found in the region. By reintroducing the native vegetation and creating a wetland ecosystem, the formerly polluted land was saved from being purchased by property developers, thanks to the efforts of the local community.

According to Northey, care, vision, and inclusion were crucial elements for success, alongside having knowledge about the functioning of healthy ecosystems at a small level. The project not only provided a sense of fulfillment in restoring the natural environment but also positively impacted the lives of those involved, particularly during the Covid lockdowns.

“People have a strong desire to take care of their local environment. Friends groups can aid and promote this desire; it is essential. Today, more than ever, we need ways to connect with nature and one another,” he asserts.

Ways to participate in local tree planting activities

Various tree-planting efforts are ongoing throughout Australia, with Plant Trees Australia being among the most prominent. This initiative, facilitated by Carbon Positive Australia, enables volunteers to link up with local organizations and access information and materials for upcoming tree-planting endeavors.

Lauren Purcell, the communications and partnerships coordinator for Carbon Positive Australia, emphasizes the importance of tree planting in fighting climate change and revitalizing ecosystems. Therefore, it is unclear why someone would not want to support this initiative.

She and her team conduct surveys on existing bushland to determine which plant species grow naturally. These species are then replanted in specific parts of remaining bushlands. She explains that their projects typically involve over 50 local species, including shrubs, ground cover, and other species that contribute to the preservation of the natural ecosystem.

It has been stated that Australia’s land clearing is one of the worst in the world and it has high rates of species extinction. These projects are meant to oppose the widespread land clearing happening in Australia, according to the speaker.

Purcell states that restoring cleared and degraded land can be difficult, especially with ongoing changes in the climate.

It is extremely important for these projects to utilize seed collections from the local area in order to support the growth of native species, connect fragmented areas of vegetation, and oversee and sustain the development of new plant life, particularly in the early stages.

Options for planting in urban Australian environments are:

Although community-driven efforts are crucial for rehabilitating damaged ecosystems, the number of individuals interested in actively participating in local environmental improvement has been growing.

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According to Patrick Belford, an urban horticulturist and director of Inner City Nature in Melbourne, a great way to enhance biodiversity and promote insects and local birds in gardens is by replacing grass lawns and nature strips with thriving ecosystems. This also helps lessen the use of noisy and polluting lawn mowers.

Urban horticulturalist Patrick Belford at his nursery in Melbourne, Australia

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“According to the speaker, having small trees planted on the northern and northwestern sides of a house can quickly alter the local climate. Additionally, deciduous trees and climbing plants on buildings can passively provide cooling during the summer months and act as insulation to keep the house warm during winter.”

He suggests planting different varieties of trees like the coral gum, fuchsia gum, and willow myrtle in Australian gardens as they not only provide support for native birds, but also have the ability to thrive in challenging weather conditions.

According to Belford, converting lawns to gardens and vegetation will decrease the necessity for mowing and provide a home for pollinating insects that support the entire food chain.

What does ‘rewilding’ mean and in what ways does it assist?

The desire for connecting with nature, planting trees, and renewing urban areas is not a recent phenomenon. However, with the escalating climate crisis, it has become increasingly important and pressing.

According to Claire Dunn, author of Rewilding the Urban Soul, the human rewilding movement aims to combat the negative impacts of urban over-domestication and disconnection from nature by reintroducing elements of wilderness and prioritizing an earth-focused mindset in our lifestyle and perception of our role on the planet.

During these difficult and unpredictable times, the act of planting a tree represents hope in motion. This type of hope is not simply a wishful thought, but rather a manifestation of taking action, no matter how small, to support change.

Spending time with a tree that has been around for generations can teach us about its worth beyond its carbon content. These trees are like wise elders, reminding us of the passage of time in the forest, which far exceeds the duration of election cycles. In times of struggle, it is important to seek wisdom from these ancient sources.

Source: theguardian.com