Hundreds of thousands dig in for the nation's favourite planting event
Green thumbs were out in force to help celebrate Planet Ark's 22nd National Tree Day, planting to support the natural environment and enjoying spending time in nature with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.
Planet Ark estimates over 250,000 people took part at over 3000 planting sites - with results still coming in - run by councils, schools, environment and community groups and Toyota Dealers across the country, planting close to one million native trees, shrubs and edibles and helping to beautify their local communities.
Thanks to thousands of teachers, students, councils, Landcare, community and faith groups, and sponsors including Toyota, Greening Australia and Trees for Life, hundreds of thousands of native trees and plants are now greening communities across the country. Many participants also celebrated by planting in their own backyards, courtyards or balcony gardens.
In Sydney 900 volunteers joined Planet Ark and the City of Parramatta to plant 10,000 nature tree, shrubs and grasses. In Melbourne the Friends of Lower Kororoit Creek joined local government, businesses including Toyota, and Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko for the gala opening of a new section of the walking and cycling trail along the creek, which has been a National Tree Day planting site for 16 years.
The members of BeardsOn, a conservation group dedicated to growing their beards and planting trees for 90 days between 1 June and 31 August, joined in by hosting three National Tree Day events. In Tasmania climbers from the Tree Projects, celebrated trees by aiming for the sky and scaling one of the biggest trees in Australia in the Styx Valley. And in South Australia the Friends of Sturt River Landcare Group added another 10,000 seedlings to the 20,000 already planted on their site (a degraded car park) over the last three years.
Planet Ark's latest research report, Learning from Trees: Life Lessons for Future Generations, shows that Australian teachers ranked critical thinking and problem solving, 'grit' or resilience, and emotional intelligence as the key skills children need to tackle major global challenges such as climate change. Australian and international research cited in the report shows time spent learning outdoors in nature helps children develop these qualities, making National Tree Day a perfect opportunity to help the next generation grow for the future.
Debbie Agnew, National Tree Day Manager, says this year's National Tree Day theme, Be Inspired – It's in Our Nature, highlights how inspiration can be found in the natural environment.
"In Australia we are so fortunate to have one of the most breathtaking and inspiring natural environments in the world. For examples of grit or problem solving, we need look no further than the tree that finds a way to grow around rocks in order to thrive, or the trees burned in a bushfire that eventually flourish with new growth," she says.
Agnew also cites the inspiring contribution of the thousands of people across the country who make National Tree Day possible every year.
"Our amazing volunteers, supporters, ambassadors and sponsors are the backbone of National Tree Day. It's thanks to their commitment and passion that around 1 million native trees, shrubs and grasses are planted every year and 23 million since the launch of National Tree Day in 1996. Their contribution and positive action are a constant source of inspiration for us all."
National Tree Day is organised by Planet Ark in partnership with Toyota Australia and its Dealer Network, which provides on the ground support at tree planting sites across Australia.
The event was supported by a host of ambassadors, including Guy Sebastian, Adam Goodes, Costa Georgiadis, James Treble, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Lee Kernaghan, Magdalena Roze, Ranger Stacey, Jamie Durie, Libby Trickett, dirtgirl and Candice Dixon.