Wilsons River Landcare Group (WRLG) and National Tree Day both turn 20 this month and will celebrate by the river this Sunday with Lismore’s largest tree-planting event.
The WRLG came together in 1993 to work with farmers on private property to try to restore degraded land.
Lismore councillor and longtime member of WRLG Vanessa Ekins told Echonetdaily that ‘it wasn’t really a success as the land was too degraded so the group moved to an area on the river near the CBD that is managed by Council’.
The once-clear waters of the Wilsons River have been muddied for many years because of siltation from farming, soil from the upper catchment washing down.
‘When the cedar-cutters first came up the river here in Lismore,’ Cr Ekins said, ‘they could see clear to the bottom and the trees were so big the canopy met at the top and you couldn’t see the sky.
‘The group has a dream of recreating that. It may not happen in our lifetime, but maybe in the next generation.’
The group has been working their current site for four years; it is on the riverbank inside the Lismore greyhound racing track, where across the river you can see mature trees planted by the group in their formative years.
Previous flooding of the current Landcare site did not appear to have damaged planting.
‘We plant what is endemic to this area, which is lowland subtropical rainforest on floodplain, which is an endangered ecological community and can withstand inundation.
‘This site is thriving and it has been underwater several times for days at a time since we have planted it out.’
Max is fourteen and has been part of the local Landcare team since he was born.
‘Although I don’t do a lot of work at the site, it is a social event for us as well,’ Max told Echonetdaily. ‘It can show people what can be done. For instance this current site five years ago was full of bushes and lantana and was not accessible.’
Nicholas is another fourteen-year-old who has been part of the group for his entire life.
‘Soil erosion has definitely slowed down because of the trees we have planted,’ he said.
James is sixteen and another lifetime member of the group.
‘People of my generation are embracing the environment more and more,’ he told Echonetdaily. ‘I have seen more people turn up over the years to events like National Tree Day planting. It could definitely become more popular!’
The WRLG have invited the whole community to join them this Sunday, 10am at the Lismore Greyhound Racing Track (Molesworth Street) for Lismore’s largest annual tree planting event – National Tree Day. People are asked to wear sturdy shoes, with gloves and hats too. You can even bring a bucket to move mulch.