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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

National Tree Day

National Tree Day

 

Ancient Tree Mt. Lofty, Playford SA (credit: Australian National Archives)

 

 

What if every day were a National Tree Day somewhere? That might make a big difference in how we view and treat trees and forests everywhere. Tree Day is an annual event in Australia, now in its 22nd year.

Originally envisioned by Planet Ark, the aim is to create positive environmental actions that can involve anyone. It is now the Australia's largest community tree-planting and nature-care event with service activities programmed for all ages. The goals have always remained the same: to do something positive in local environments, for communities, and to reconnect with nature. More than 4-million Australians have planted an impressive 23 million trees and native plants during various Tree Day conservation and restoration projects since 1996. Organizations like Trees for Life organize Bush Action Teams to participate in such projects across the country.

 

            Bush Action Teams Restoration Planting South Australia (credit: Planet Ark)

It may seem unusual for a continent-sized, highly urbanized, nation of only 22 million people would declare a national day for planting trees but Australia experienced major deforestation in the late 19th into the mid-20th Century. Temperate and tropical rainforests across the continent---the world's driest---were often clear-felled for agricultural production and livestock grazing (sheep/cattle) during those decades. Free land was also given to returning war veterans, in gratitude for overseas military service, if the trees and bush vegetation were cleared and the land planted. In some regions, only remnant pockets of the original tree covered landscape remain. They now receive protection in national parks and biological reserves, on mountain watersheds, and private property. This situation of local deforestation, conservation concerns for native plants and biodiversity, combined with a strong Australian tradition of community action, has allowed Tree Day to develop from the grassroots outward.

An example of one community planting project outside Melbourne is typical of National Tree Day events nationwide. It would be an excellent idea for other countries to pay attention to what the Australians have done and designate national tree days of their own. WHB

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