Native tree seedlings

The Cycle of (Trees For) Life

After more than 20 years of growing seedlings for Trees For Life (TFL), Mum and I (AKA team Moore Forrest), are retiring due to various health issues.

Being part of TFL volunteer revegetation projects by growing the plants for them has been so rewarding. I get such a buzz out of seeing the tiny seedlings emerge from the soil and then watching them grow until they’re a veritable forest in our backyard. I run my hand through them and delight in their vigour, willing them to live long lives.

They will restore landscapes and prevent erosion; improve soil quality and its water-holding capacity; improve water quality; reduce soil salinity; provide homes for countless creatures; create windbreaks to protect crops; draw down carbon and create the air we breathe while also improving its quality. Plants do so much to increase farmland viability and biodiversity conservation. They are the interface between us and the climate and the soil and water and the air we breathe.

Since about 1995, for some seven months of each year, we have been parents to hundreds of leafy children, delivering approximately 550 seedlings a year to landholders across South Australia.

This type of individual action builds momentum for change, demonstrating commitment and capacity, literally changing how our surroundings look and feel. By getting involved in projects to restore biodiversity and habitat we make a tangible difference. But this has been just one aspect of our efforts to leave a more sustainable world than the one we find ourselves in now. For all the trees, shrubs, native grasses, and groundcovers to have a future, we must also stop burning fossil fuels – gas, coal, and oil – by the end of the decade. So, Mum and I have also been active for decades in lobbying for renewable power and electric vehicles, and against new coal, oil and gas projects. These, and a raft of other measures will together transition us out of the climate chaos that has begun to hit communities right across the world.

The more climate change we allow, the greater the severity of heat, drought, bushfires, and changing rainfall patterns we will experience – all making it harder for plants to persist and flourish.

The other challenge our plants face is continuing land clearance. Increasingly fragmented bushland means dangerous routes for animals whose range is larger than the islands we have created and decreased genetic diversity which can reduce the long-term resilience of both plants and animals. Revegetation projects are brilliant, but big old trees are better. We need to stop cutting down these leafy homes, for our own sake as much as for other animals’.

We must use our civic powers and contact our members of parliament and local government representatives, sign petitions and open letters, support and amplify the efforts of groups that stand up for climate action and biodiversity preservation and restoration, and, of course, by voting in alignment with our values and with science at all levels of government.

It has been so rewarding to be able to contribute to large revegetation projects from our own backyard through TFL. We have met many wonderful landholders whose dedication to making their land more sustainable is an inspiration. We can all make a difference in our daily choices. And we all have a role to play in guiding national and international policymakers to make decisions based on science. And while our TFL growing days have come to a close, it will continue to be a democratic privilege to be vocal and visible about the government policies and actions needed to secure the health and stability of this planet, for all life.

© Palitja Moore, text, 2021, and Joy Forrest, image, 2021.

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