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On the Land

19 June, 2022

Nursery expansion helps restore rainforest

A NEW 150,000 native tree nursery is set to be built in the Daintree by environmentalist group Rainforest Rescue to provide indigenous trees to the area for rainforest restoration projects.

By Rhys Thomas

The nursery will be established on the Cow Bay airstrip which was recently bought by avid conservationists and supporters of the rescue organisation. 

Founded in 1999, Rainforest Rescue has created 20 nature refuges over its 23 years of operation and rescued nearly two million square metres of rainforest, one million of that being in the Daintree. 

Rainforest Rescue CEO Branden Barber said the rescue had seen exponential expansion in recent years, doubling in size. 

“When I started a few years ago our annual budget was $700,000 and we had five people working for us, now we are twice as big,” he said. 

“Nationally our focus is the Daintree, it is really the only place that we are working and the reason that we decided to increase the number of trees that we propagate per year, is because of climate change. 

“The planet is burning and the best way to reduce carbon in the atmosphere is with trees.” 

Currently, the rescue has a small restoration team that propagates 12,000 trees a year through its current nursery, but the new nursery will allow them to plant 150,000 trees a year and provide more trees for more projects. 

To help with this massive increase in planting, the rescue has joined hands with other like-minded organisations such as Queensland Trust for Nature and Greenfleet to help plant more trees in the Daintree area. 

“We will have even more expert hands in the delivery and provision of genetically diverse and biodiverse rainforest trees from the Daintree,” Mr Barber said. 

“My goal in the beginning and still is more trees, the whole idea is more trees, trees are the answer, put more trees in the ground, provide more trees. 

“We are not just talking about restoration, we are not just talking about habitat, we are not just talking about carbon, we are talking about providing jobs in the community and more.” 

Since starting the nursery project, the group has rescued around six properties in a year and a half including some that were considered unsavable. 

Mr Barber said without the support of organisations, donors and contributors, the nursery expansion would not have been possible. 

The existing nursery Rainforest Rescue are using

“We never had a capital campaign before – we would buy properties that would be $100,000 or $200,000 or maybe $250,000,” he said. 

“To build a nursery like this is over half a million dollars so it was a big deal and we have had support coming from all kinds of wonderful directions.

“How does it feel now to be standing of the precipice with a clear road ahead to build and make it happen? 

It is really exciting and it is a relief to have made it.” 

Small works have already begun on the property to make way for the nursery with shovels due to be put in the dirt as soon as possible.

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