-Joe Foskett, u5012240
Greening Australia is an NGO, a non-profit organisation that is not a part of any government body—although in this case, it very often works with the Australian government. It has many projects, all centred on the goal of keeping the natural Australian landscape alive and flourishing. This doesn’t mean to simply hang on to existing reserves, but to establish further ones. They have a long list of ambitious projects to establish reserves across the continent. These potential reserves have an emphasis on connectivity, stretching thousands of kilometres across many biomes.
All of this costs money, of course. A decent chunk of GA’s revenues come from selling seeds and plants—$64 000 in 2013, and $120 000 in 2014. I worked in Aranda on Wednesday mornings. The point of the job was to maintain the quality of the nursery; during summer, this work is mostly thinning and cleaning, and as the weather gets cooler and wetter there’s a shift towards planting. More specifically it involved going through dozens and dozens of small potted plants—trees and bushes, mostly—and removing anything which shouldn’t be there. Some of the plants had died and were removed entirely. The majority were then divided by size, to leave the like plants together. Any instances of multiple seeding were also removed.
It was satisfying work. We worked with many different species, and each tended to attract different hangers-on—this one weeds, this one some sort of clover, this one a thick moss. The bulbs which had failed to sprout were simply left behind. This was all performed with a short wooden stake. There is something very basically satisfying about creating rows of neat, orderly plants, even if it’s not the most natural configuration. There was a very nice communal atmosphere, with about 15 others working there most mornings.
These plants are either used in conservation projects, or sold to fund Greening Australia’s activities. The second of these might sound a little dry, but it doesn’t have to be; the group is eager to get the buyers interested and involved in native wildlife. In March of this year, for instance, they began selling native plants at the markets in Pilbara WA— which then led to a series of workshops on propagating and caring for native plants. For me, it was good to see basic, community-level conservation work in action.