We've answered frequently asked questions below.
Where are the projects?
We are restoring the Earth's rainforests beginning with projects in Australia, Indonesia, and India.
In Australia, we are restoring the Big Scrub subtropical rainforest in Northern New South Wales, the tropical rainforests on the Atherton Tablelands, and the Daintree Lowland Rainforest in Far North Queensland. In Indonesia, the project is located in North Sumatra, in Gunung Leuser National Park which straddles the border of North Sumatra and Aceh provinces. The India project is located in the region of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.
How are the locations chosen?
The rainforests where we are working have all experienced deforestation and are still facing ongoing threats of land clearing and invasive weed degradation. We have chosen these locations as key areas of restoration and biodiversity importance. These rainforests are biodiversity hotspots and all host immense opportunities for reforestation and regeneration to support wildlife, climate, people, and the planet.
Why is each project different?
In each location, the rainforest ecosystem and the people are unique, calling for tailored responses.
We work closely with ecologists, rainforest regeneration experts, local and Indigenous people and communities to design projects to be reflective of the needs of the rainforest and local communities in each location.
For example, in subtropical Australia, the Big Scrub rainforest needs enhanced wildlife corridors to connect a fragmented rainforest and the local community are calling for more participation in environmental work through community volunteer planting days. Whereas in Sumatra, removing oil palm plantations and supporting local indigenous custodianship of new rainforests will have the biggest ecological impact.
To achieve the best possible ecological outcome we must treat each location as unique and in need of its own solution.
What are the methodologies used in the projects?
We use two methods of reforestation to reach our targets. These are direct tree planting and accelerated natural regeneration and each site will use either or a combination of these two methods. These are explained in detail below:
Tree planting is the direct planting of seedlings into the ground. Trees are planted at a 1.5 to 3 meter spacing depending on the proximity to the forest. Close proximity to the forest increases the chances of natural regeneration, that is seeds dispersed from the forest onto the planting sites in between the newly planted trees. In this case, a space of 3 meters is left to encourage this seed dispersal.
Accelerated natural regeneration
Accelerated natural regeneration (ANR) is the method used on areas that were once forest and are now inundated with exotic weeds. As rainforest seeds can lie dormant in the soil for many years (with some species up to 120 years) the soil beneath these thick areas of invasive weeds can be full of life from the seeds dropped from trees before the forest was cleared and invasive weeds came through. These seeds in the soil are waiting for a chance to germinate, hindered by the weeds on top of them which block out sunlight and compete for the soil nutrients.
In short, ANR is the strategy used to utilise the seed bank in the soil for reforestation. By effectively removing the invasive weeds, and appropriately maintaining the area, this strategy removes the barrier and competition for the seeds and thus enables them to germinate. It is a strategy that assists the natural regeneration of the forest. ANR has been shown to be the most cost-effective approach for large-scale forest and landscape restoration. An entire forest can be grown by properly removing weeds. Regeneration teams in northern NSW have demonstrated the successful assisted natural regeneration of an average of 10,000 trees per hectare.
Choosing the right methodology for each site
Each site is different and so the choice of the method will vary. Determining whether to renew a forest through tree planting or accelerated natural regeneration depends on many factors including site factors such as proximity to existing intact forest, local cost of planting vs assisted natural regeneration, soil degradation, and the existing soil seed bank. Each site will use either one or a combination of these two methods.
How does a tree cost $1?
The cost of planting varies from location to location and by averaging the costs among all projects we aim to achieve AUD$1 per tree established. This will be reviewed every year.
Are the trees taken care of?
Yes! Establishing a tree either through direct tree planting or Accelerated Natural Regeneration (ANR) is only the beginning. Maintenance is one of the most important parts of tree planting to ensure a new tree grows happy and healthy.
A general rule of thumb across all of our projects is a minimum of three years of maintenance. Maintenance involves checking tree health and removing surrounding weeds so they do not compete with the trees for nutrients and water. The aim is to remove competition and ensure the trees grow tall enough to shade out the weeds underneath and begin to create a microclimate and habitat that encourages birds and other seed-dispersing wildlife to inhabit the area.
A comprehensive maintenance plan is created by the team and carried out for at least three years after the initial planting or Accelerated Natural Regeneration work is conducted.
What type of trees are chosen?
Species are chosen specifically for each country, location, and site. Tree species selection is conducted by an ecologist and botanist who chooses the appropriate native trees for each site based on the microclimate of the site, forest type in the area, availability of sunlight, existing plant competition, presence of animals and insects. A mixed selection of native trees is always chosen.
Additional care is taken to choose species which:
- Are native to the area
- Are suited to the specific site
- Support native animals and insects
- Are endangered or threatened
- Provide food and habitat for native species
- Support native pollinators
Are indigenous and local communities involved?
Yes. Indigenous peoples in Australia and around the world have been caring for rainforests since the beginning. We recognise their custodianship and leadership in the care and restoration of rainforests today. In our projects, we work with, support, and learn from Indigenous peoples and form meaningful partnerships through which we achieve our outcomes.
In each location we work are local communities and Indigenous people. By opening up communication, understanding local community and Indigenous needs, and working together we can achieve the best possible outcome for rainforests and for people. Building and maintaining relationships with local and Indigenous communities are at the centre of our conservation programs and practices. We cannot have conservation without people, and we cannot have people without rainforests.
Working with local communities and Indigenous people looks different in each location. There is no single approach that can span the world - instead, we listen, learn and adapt to new locations and the needs of those that are at the heart of our work.