End of year brings changeof pace
The last three months has been busy in finalisingour rehabilitation of the many rainforest blocks in the Daintree.
September saw the last of this year’s tree plantingas the hot weather heralded the onset of the wet season. We had some good rainin October and November but the 30 degree days made field work uncomfortableand we even had to water some recent tree plantings to ensure their survival.
The tropical north of Australia is expecting a good wetseason this year, which usually runs from November to March and it is theweather that actually determines our work schedule in rainforestrehabilitation.
In the coming months we will be undertakingessential maintenance of our plant and equipment. The very nature of operatingin a tropical environment means regular and often costly maintenance. Thisperiod is also one for site maintenance such as fence and track repair and alsoa time for seed collection and grow out in our nursery.
Donors keep the faith
The 2011 year has been a tough one for manybusinesses and individuals and consequently, many charities have foundmaintaining donations quite difficult.
We were no exception. However most of our regulardonors have maintained the faith and for this we are extremely grateful.
A number of our supporters have arrived in thetropical north, some unannounced, to have a look at the rehabilitation sitesand find trees they have purchased.
Thanks to our Conservation Officer, Adrian ‘Golly’Watson, who gave up his leave and weekends on occasions, we managed toaccommodate most requests for field visits.
For thoseliving outside of the tropics it is hard to appreciate what the wet season canbring. For us, 10 feet a year is not uncommon. Now, that’s a lot of water.
Working with the weather is never an easy taskDuring the dry season in the Daintree rainforest, which usually runsfrom April to December, the ARF works hard at rehabilitating themany rainforest blocks it has acquired.However, by the time September comes around, 36 degree Celcius daysand high humdity makes tree planting more difficult. It is duringthe September to December period that the Foundation starts seedcollecting for the next year’s planting and keeps on top of the neverending weed control, site and machinery maintenance.The July to September period this year saw a new milestone achievedwith Angsana Great Barrier Reef Resort (part of the Banyan Tree Group)planting its 10,000th tree in the Daintree on ARF land; and the WestpacBank group from Far North Queensland came back to plant another200 trees on their growing rainforest reserve at Cape Tribulation.
Following the tropical cyclone Yasi in February 2011, conservation efforts have been centred on cleaning up the damage to vegetation. However since February we have continued to experience greater than average rainfall, making site clean up and weed control almost impossible. It has only been in the early part of May that we have been able to get vehicles and equipment back on site and as the photographs show, the weed reinfestation has been significant. (see “Over the Creek Blu…..” image shows the extent of weed reinfestation with the trees planted in late 2010 just popping up amongst the weeds)
The next few months will be spent dealing with the weeds in preparation for the next 4,000 trees due to be planted in the dry season between June and November.
In the meantime, we have been collecting seeds and growing out a number of seedlings in our Daintree nursery. ( see attached photos) This is an important task as most of the trees used in rehabilitation must come from the local area. We currently have around 15 different tree species in the nursery and through collection and purchase from commercial nurseries; this will rise to almost 100 different species ready for revegetation plantings later in the year.
Thank you for your continued support friends and I look forward to updating you soon on other Australian Rainforest Foundation activity in the George Mansford Reserve!
This Project Update will be short and to the point. We need your help today. If history teaches us anything, it is that time is of the essence right after a major catastrophe. Although Cyclone Yasi had mercy on the bigger metropolitan cities of Far North Queensland, it showed no such restraint on wildlife habitat. The Cassowary Coast took a direct hit and many parts of the Daintree rainforest were damaged as well. There is a lot we can't do, but there is an awful lot that we can do. But we need your help and we need your financial support.
Fruit trees are a major source of food for wildlife and most of these trees have been defoliated--stripped clean. Major food operations are underway including setting up food stations near known heavy wildlife traffic, aerial food drops in the denser jungle regions and a massive restoration and revegetation program to extend the rainforest and protect the old-growth/mature rainforest. Below are key reasons why we need to act now and get the job done:
Cyclone Yasi Update--3/2/2011 at 14:30 hours.
Cyclone Yasi has devastated the coastal area between Innisfail, Mission Beach and Tully. This is prime rainforest habitat (called the Cassowary Coast) for the endangered Southern Cassowary, the 'Gardener of the Rainforest' in Tropical North Queensland. Not a tree standing in downtown Mission Beach. 90% of banana production destroyed. The World Heritage Listed Daintree rainforest wasn't hit as hard. This is prime cassowary habitat as well, along with rare and endangered flora and fauna, tree kangaroos, wallaby, cockatoos, etc...
ARF has a rainforest block (145 acres) in the worst hit area--Mission Beach. As of tonight, no word on condition of rainforest which was 90% old-growth rainforest. I will update this project again tomorrow night. Please know--this is shaping up to be a wildlife and habitat tragedy in this part of the region. The only good news (possibly) is that the World Heritage Listed Daintree rainforest might have been spared a real heartbreaking loss. We'll know more about this tomorrow. But World Heritage Listed rainforest and its wildlife south of Cairns is in real serious trouble. We have a lot of work to do! Please donate if you can and please ask a friend. Updates on First Response/Disaster Recovery operations will be forthcoming.
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CEO, Australian Rainforest Foundation