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Byron Shire
December 2, 2023

Reviving the Big Scrub, one tree at a time

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From left: Mark Powell from Northern Rivers Estate; ReForest Now Secretary, Kallen Marecic; Nicole Swain from EGS Investments; Robert Schwamberg and Sarah Colsenet from Byron View Farm; Taryn McGregor from Tareeda; ReForest Now CEO, Maximo Bottaro. Pictured in front is Darlsy Powell from Northern Rivers Estate with her grandchildren. Photo Jeff ‘Regenerating But Still Degenerating’ Dawson.

Local not-for-profit reforestation group, ReForest Now, has celebrated the planting of 311,000 in just three years, and say they have 58 hectares of bush regeneration underway.

ReForest Now CEO, Maximo Bottaro, told The Echo, ‘140,000 of these trees were planted with just four local parties – Tareeda, Byron View Farm, EGS Investments, and Northern Rivers Estate.

He says they have converted enormous tracts of high-value land for rainforest regeneration.

Looking to partner with new landholders

‘We are looking to partner in 2023 with new landholders who are willing to contribute, and in return, they’ll receive some of the trees for free, via our donors. Now’s the time to start planning it together.’

Secretary Kallen Marecic added, ‘Donors from over 45 countries contribute to our tree planting in Australia – we’re planting over 115 species at $5 per tree. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary to bring these funds to the Big Scrub. It deserves our help’.

‘Coming together and recognising our collective achievement for this region is something quite special. These landholders have put a lot of energy into [bush] regeneration.

‘These stewards aspire to return more of their land to rainforest, with a strong message to encourage others (that can) to do the same. We need everyone to see this change!’

Rewilding the world is essential

Robert Schwamberg from Byron View Farm said, ‘Rewilding the world we live in is essential for all of us to be able to move forwards’.

‘Removing environmentally destructive cattle from our property and reverting it back to how it was, with lush subtropical rainforests and all the amazing local wildlife that it attracts, was a no-brainer for us.

‘Hopefully, our decision will inspire other landowners, regardless of their land size, to think beyond today and initiate some foundations for a sustainable future for our planet. None of us will be around to see this project completed, but it does give immense gratification to know that you’ve instigated something much greater than yourself. This is for passion, not profit’.

A welcome opportunity

Nicole Swain from EGS Investments added, ‘Planting these forests has been a welcome opportunity to restore and rebuild around a “Big Scrub” remnant on our farm’.

‘Hopefully, we will be able to join up with other wildlife corridors in the area in the near future’.

Taryn McGregor from Tareeda said, ‘It’s a great privilege to be able to reforest small patches of our beautiful region, I hope our work inspires many others to join in and restore the Big Scrub rainforest. Collectively we can create natural corridors of native flora across the hinterland for future generations, and already we are seeing the increase in local wildlife and bird species’.

And Mark Powell from Northern Rivers Estate said, ‘We’re excited to leave a legacy for future generations, we’re aiming at 75 per cent regeneration of our 260-acre property with rainforest’.

‘They’re a good bunch of young workers, fantastic, enthusiastic team. Northern Rivers Estate is building an ecotourism facility around all of these works, by recreating what the area would’ve looked like 250 years ago’.

Maximo adds, ‘We have commenced a mega-planting project in Clunes, it’s called Banyula. Many trees – 300,000 – will be planted along 6.8 kilometres of the Wilsons River, and we hope to complete it in nine months, over La Niña’.

‘If you’d like to contribute towards this local project, you can donate at www.reforestnow.org.au/planttrees or call me on 0415 134 941’.

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