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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Germaine Greer: "I've now become a doer"

Germaine Greer: "I've now become a doer"

Germaine Greer (credit: University of Melbourne/Wikipedia)

Australian writer Germaine Greer is known for her strong voice, being opinionated, funny, and brilliant. Her books on feminism and the woman's movement have been read by millions. She purchased an abandoned dairy farm in Queensland and retired to become an advocate for environmental restoration. When asked why she decided to do this work Greer said:  Give me just a chance to clean something up, sort something out, make it right, and I will take it.

               Cave Creek and Springbrook NP, Queensland (credit: Friends of Gondwana)

The famous author has written about this journey in White Beech: The Rainforest Years to describe her years of learning about the forest, its plants, animals, and how to restore the degraded areas that surrounded her farm. The science journal Nature was so impressed by her new restoration endeavor they asked a fellow Australian, the ecologist Tim Flannery, to write their book review.

Looking for something different after a career of political and social writings. Greer embarked on this grand environmental effort by creating a non-profit organization: the Friends of Gondwana Rainforest. The program is based at Cave Creek near Springbrook National Park inland from some of Queensland's famous surfing beaches. Besides restoring her landscape, another of the organization's goal is to highlight the plight of rainforests that once covered the ancient continent, Gondwana, of which Australia was a major part.

In those chance encounters with the natural world that often has profound effects on someone,  Greer had an epiphany sitting in the forest. She commented on this during a lecture at the University of Melbourne:
I was sitting on a rock viewing and listening to the forest when a bird appeared, a Regent Bowerbird, and danced in front of me. The whole time it kept looking out of its yellow eye right at me. It was like the bird was saying, What are you going to do about this place? Are you going to help us? In the end, when I left that rock, I bought the property."

 

                   Regent Bowerbird (credit: Friends of Gondwana/Lui Weber)

Greer purchased ~150 acres of degraded land and began propagating native species from seeds she gathered from a few remaining rainforest species nearby. Using ecological 'trial & error' to see what grew and established and which did not, she planted them around her property to encourage further regeneration from the few remaining patches of the original rainforest. She wanted to see if it would be possible to rebuild a rainforest extensively degraded by logging, clearing, overgrazing, and covered in invasive weeds. As her Gondwana foundation notes:

"if the extraordinary rainforest biodiversity is to be preserved, a network of small reserves will need to be created. We hope to inspire other private landholders that have rainforest fragments to conserve and protect them. We hope our efforts will help like-minded individuals and organizations find each other as well as providing a information database to assist. To keep even the smallest patches of native or semi-native vegetation – the large reserves alone are not enough”.

 

            Rainforest restoration, Cave Creek (credit: Friends of Gondwana)

The author was invited to make a presentation on her restoration efforts, the results, and the impact the work had on her intellectually. Her accounts are personal, emotional, powerful, and funny. Greer made quite a positive choice for a second career.

Environmental restoration is a big task but anyone can participate in some capacity. Perhaps you might like to doing something similarly engaged yourself. WHB

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