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Byron Shire
March 3, 2024

Creating jobs and bushfire proofing a boon for the environment

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Landowner Rainder Hart with Madhima Gulgan Community Association (MGCA) and the Rainforest 4 Foundation planting at Huonbrook as part of the bushfire recovery and regeneration project. Photo supplied.

As the government talks about getting the economy going by proposing the removal of regulations on development, subsidising gas and reducing environmental requirements for coal seam gas (CSG) development the Rainforest 4 Foundation is taking the opposite approach.

Rainforest 4 has partnered with the Madhima Gulgan Community Association (MGCA) to provide jobs and regenerate the rainforest following the devastating fires that swept across Australia during the last fire season. They have started a planting program with residents and landowners at Wanganui in the Byron Shire recover from the bushfires and restore biodiversity and habitat for the future.

Historically the high rainfall and lush rainforest vegetation helped prevent bushfires however, last seasons combination of a heating climate combined with a drought led to areas of rainforest burning that had never burnt before.

Dr Jo Green is an ecologist and botanist who lives at Wanganui says to help protect against fires like the ones we saw last fire season we need to regenerate the rainforest.

‘The fires were a big wake up call. Now we have to prepare for the future,’ said Dr Green.

Madhima Gulgan Community Association (MGCA) and the Rainforest 4 Foundation have partnered to continue bushfire recovery planting throughout the Northern Rivers region. Photo supplied.

‘As an ecologist, I see the solution as restoring the area with fire-resistant rainforest species. We also have to remove exotic plants that are flammable like Running Bamboo.

‘Since the fires, there has been some natural regeneration of rainforest trees, species like the Red Cedar, Bleeding Heart, Macaranga and Red Ash have popped up… and so have a huge amount of weeds.’

Rainforest 4 and MGCA are working on areas where the original subtropical forest was cleared for dairy pastures 100 or more years ago and was farmed.

‘We are planting to add species diversity in the understorey and midstory, and on the advice of Dr Green, we’ve also chosen species that will provide a fire-resistant barrier to prevent any future fires moving up the slope,’ said a spokesperson for Rainforest 4.

‘Some of the tree species we planted in this area are Lilli Pilli, Pink Euodia, Tamarind, Firewheel, and Flame trees. These are all fire-resistant species and will create a buffer zone for future bushfire threats. To the understory, we added Dianella and Lomandra along with the Native Ginger and Cordyline as part of the mix.’

You can support the work of Rainforest 4 Foundation by making a donation to help keep the project going. Every $10 will establish one tree including maintenance for three years to ensure they survive.

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