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10 March, 2021

Treeforce celebrates 30 years

Treeforce will celebrate its thirtieth birthday on Sunday March 21 with a special tree planting combined with fun, games and a morning tea, and new members are welcome.

The first Treeforce event, held in 1991, was the Tree Train, which transported members of the community to plant a strip of rainforest species above the Cairns to Kuranda railway line in Redlynch.

The first Treeforce event, held in 1991, was the Tree Train, which transported members of the community to plant a strip of rainforest species above the Cairns to Kuranda railway line in Redlynch.  

Longest-standing member, Lesley Clark, attended that first meeting.

“I am very proud to have been part of Treeforce since the beginning,” she said.

“It is so rewarding to revisit our sites and see the forests we have created and know that we have contributed to restoring our tropical environment.”

The Tree train was an overwhelming success. Where fires regularly swept up the slopes there is now a dense line of fire-resistant rainforest.

Since then, the group has planted countless thousands of locally native trees in the Cairns environment.

Sites planted include Aeroglen (opposite the airport and along the yellow arrow walk), Smithfield, Clifton Beach, Kamerunga, Stratford, Cairns Central Swamp and Little Mulgrave.

However, most planting has been done in the Freshwater Creek catchment, most recently along the bike path leading from Goomboora Park and the Radjirr-radjirr floodplain behind St Andrew’s Catholic College.

These sites have kept volunteers busy since 2009. In the past year, in addition to planting trees, volunteers have conducted a variety of Citizen Science projects, having received grants from the Australian Government’s Communities Environment Program and the Queensland Department of Environment and Science's Queensland Citizen Science Grant.

Treeforce volunteers in early 2000s including: Front row, from left, with Landcare bag, coordinator Lisa O’Mara; Paul Reilly; former vice-president Lee Crawford; former vice-president Suzanne Tree; Lesley Clark; former president Rob Campbell; former treasurer Ann Mohun; late Betty Nielsen.

The first activity for 2021 took place in February at Radjirr-radjirr. Following some necessary weeding (weeds compete with young trees) 25 eager volunteers planted trees supplied by Terrain NRM’s Rowan Shee, who shared information about their growing habits.

Afterwards, Treeforce’s scientific advisor, Stuart Worboys from the Australian Herbarium at JCU, Cairns, introduced volunteers to iNaturalist.

This phone app allows volunteers to record the flora and fauna of Freshwater Creek, a vital tool for various Citizen Science projects. On March 7, Clean Up Australia Day, volunteers collected a serious amount of rubbish from our Radjirr-radjirr site. 

Over morning tea, guest speaker, Jo Karam, Marine Debris manager with Tangaroa Blue Foundation, talked about the work done by this not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris.

Volunteers learned that there are an estimated 40,000 pieces of plastic in every square kilometre of ocean.

On Saturday March 13, 27 volunteers and four scientists participated in an evening moth identification evening with David Rentz and Sally Cowan at Radjirr-radjirr.

This excellent event involved white sheets, lights, lots of insects – and three frogs!

Treeforce’s 30th birthday, which coincides with International Day of Forests, will be celebrated from 8am on Sunday March 21 with tree planting, gum boot decoration and throwing competition and a morning tea with cake.

Everyone is welcome. Follow the signs from the playground in Goomboora Park, Brinsmead.

For further information contact Lisa, Treeforce coordinator, at or 0435 016 906 or visit or

Story by Stella Martin, Treeforce Secretary.

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