Over the past two months, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Greening Australia. Our outings to Scottsdale were cancelled as a result of the weather, I ended up joining their weekly volunteer program which runs Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Wednesdays: In the nursery
Between 10 and 20 volunteers came each week to weed out trays and trays of native plant seedlings, making sure that the seedlings were healthy and tidying up each pot for when the new orders that came in. It was all quite simple!
Thursdays: Let’s go Green Team!
I only got to go to two Green Team events during my time with Greening Australia. There was only one mini-bus going out each week to do restoration work and the competition to get a seat was intense!
In my first week, we went to the Lower Cotter Reserve where about 10 hectares of the pine plantation had been burnt about three or four years ago. Navigating around the blackberry bushes and trying to make sure we didn’t dig out any of the tiny regenerating native shrubs, we planted 350 native tree seedlings and grasses.
The second Thursday we went behind the Greening Australia enclosure to the storm water drain, removing the invasive grasses to make room to plant native shrubs as part of a project collaboration with Rivers of Carbon.
I’ve found myself asking the ‘so what?’ question more than once as I spent my Wednesday mornings scratching weeds from the surface soil of the propagule pots.
But just look at the statistics for 2014: in the ACT and surrounding regions, Greening Australia propagated over 100,000 seedlings, directed seeded over 250km, distributed 400kg of native seed, while partnering with over 180 landholders and engaging with nearly 4250 volunteers (Greening Australia 2015, pers. comm.).
With over just 200 staff across Australia, Greening Australia needs its partners and volunteers not only to do the jobs but also to teach them to others. Whether it’s following them in the field or just chatting over morning tea, I’ve learnt a lot from fellow volunteers who have been working with Greening Australia for a number of years in terms of both the how-to of field work and the wider implications for biodiversity conservation.
Greening Australia’s National Strategic Plan for 2013-2018 is Conservation without Borders; to have conservation efforts ongoing regardless of public or private land or state borders. Therefore a large part of Greening Australia’s focus is on engaging with stakeholders and volunteers.
Greening Australia has, and continues to be, engaged with a wide range of different stakeholders from schools, business partners to governments. It has been broadening its engagement with the community through social media and increased volunteer opportunities. Many hands make light work, and community engagement is essential to have effective and widespread biodiversity conservation practices across Australia.
Greening Australia ACT’s volunteer program runs Wednesday mornings 9:30am-12pm. You can also join the mailing list for the Green Team. For volunteering opportunities, visit the Greening Australia Volunteers website here.
Greening Australia (n.d.) National Strategic Plan 2013-2018: Conservation without Borders, available from: http://www.greeningaustralia.org.au/uploads/knowledge-portal/strategic_plan_conservation_without_borders.pdf
Greening Australia (2015) personal communication (pers. comm.)