8 April, 2024

Saving region’s rainforests

RAINFOREST Rescue is celebrating the 25th anniversary of a commitment to ‘protect rainforests forever’.

By Nick Dalton

Dozens of volunteers celebrate the planting of hundreds of trees in the Daintree rainforest. Picture: Rainforest Rescue
Dozens of volunteers celebrate the planting of hundreds of trees in the Daintree rainforest. Picture: Rainforest Rescue

Rainforest Rescue has built the region’s most productive native plant nursery at a self-sufficient site at what was once the Cow Bay airstrip. The nursery employs local team members propagating plants for restoration sites north and south of the Daintree River. When at capacity, the nursery will grow 150,000 trees a year.

Rainforest Rescue chief executive Branden Barber said there was an increasing involvement of different members of the Douglas shire community in environmental activities.

“It really does feel like ‘the best time is now’ to be involved in rainforest conservation and restoration,” he said.

“We’re working with private landowners, conservation groups, research teams, schools and First Nations people to bring the value of the natural environment to the fore. Regenerative tourism is increasing, and local business owners want to get involved to be involved. 

“More and more people are finding local employment in conservation and restoration careers. 

“Years ago, this wouldn’t have been the case. Something’s changed, which is positive news for the Douglas shire and great news for nature.”

Since 1999, with the help of supporters and the local Daintree community, Rainforest Rescue has planted over 300,000 trees. 44 ecologically-significant properties adjacent to Daintree National Park land are now protected, 31 of which have nature refuge status. 

Several wildlife corridors now connect protected areas of land to help rare and threatened wildlife, such as cassowaries and tree kangaroos, to move through rainforest habitat safely and unmolested. 

This helps to support a healthy and genetically diverse population.

Despite the extreme weather conditions earlier in the year, trees planted by the local community at the Mossman Botanic Garden site are growing strong. 

A similar situation was evident at a private restoration location in North Daintree, where new trees withstood record flooding.

“Our nursery and land management team know which rainforest plants are adapted to adversity, so we have a structured planting method to make sure  as many trees reach maturity as possible,” Mr Barber said.

“We aim to mimic the biodiversity of the rainforest as best we can during the restoration process, doing everything we can to ensure best conservation outcomes.”

Rainforest Rescue aims to make 2024 the ‘biggest year ever for the rainforests’, with activities planned to thank people for their support over the past 25 years and plenty of restoration and rescues. 

In May, the annual community tree planting day will be held at Nightwings Rainforest Centre, Wonga Beach.

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