While Queensland faces a land clearing catastrophe, people across Australia are taking matters in their own hands by planting millions of trees in their back yards.
Anyone watching David Attenborough’s series, Our Planet, will know Australia is facing a land clearing catastrophe. So bad in fact, WWE puts us on the map as the only developed nation facing wide-scale habitat destruction. Every year, an area the size of Sydney is wiped-out to make way for industrial pasture farming. Thanks to our lush, spacious North Eastern land, we export 1.1 million tons of beef to overseas markets every year.
“In Queensland alone, it’s estimated 45 million animals were killed in 2015-16 because of bulldozing of forests – everything from geckos to cockatoos,” WWF conservation scientist Dr Martin Taylor said.
Closer to home, we’re feeling the effect of global warming on temperatures. In the past century alone, heatwaves have killed more Australians than all other natural disasters combined. Concrete streets, pavements and roofs trap the burning heat like ovens, cooking vulnerable children and the elderly.
Even traditional landowners are feeling the pain for future generations, “Everywhere we go, it’s our food source, our knowledge, our past, our present and our future,” warned indigenous landowner Ms Watson.
“It’s upsetting because if they continue doing that sort of thing [clearing], we’ll have nothing left for our children, to show our children,” said her friend Ms Shaw.
We have a green bullet capable of returning our planet to pre-industrial conditions. They’re called trees. Carbon capturing, flood reducing, pollution-eating and shade producing; trees are the answer. How could a tree possibly counter 1500 football fields of trees felled in Queensland? When you consider the nine million properties in Australia, the opportunity is fertile.
Top 5 benefits of garden trees
- Energy-saving – save up to 25% on your energy bill by using trees as insulation.
- Passive – cooling shade in the summer, leaves drop in winter for full sunshine
- Value – lush trees increase property value by up to 20%
- Fruit – free apples, pears or avocados take your pick
- Environment – carbon dioxide capture, clean air, habitat
The health benefits, like roots, are far-reaching. Your heart has to work harder in extreme heat. Trees provide shade which lower temperatures 6 – 20 degrees and therefore, your blood pressure. Phytochemicals and beneficial bacteria are also released by the biome in our backyard, boosting immune function.
Psychologically, trees can breathe fresh air into our headspace. Japanese doctors regularly prescribe ‘forest bathing’ (shinrin-yoku), a trip to the woods to wash away negativity clouding your life. Trees also promote exercise; doesn’t a run outdoors sound better under the cool shade?
Where the federal government fail to regulate tree clearing, local governments have stepped up. NSW Department of Planning and Environment are planting five million trees before 2030. This would boost the tree canopy from 17% to 40%, reducing the average Sydney temperature by 2.5 degrees.
Eco-warrior Costa, from Costa’s Backyard Revolution, made an appearance at the Home Show as an advocate for the new initiative.
Over in Melbourne’s western suburbs, there’s another initiative to plant one million trees by 2050, doubling the tree canopy. It’s an alliance of local councils, water utilities, business groups and individuals shaping the once harsh post-industrial environment.
Planting trees sounds simple enough, but can often face obstacles. The strength of trees lies in their strong roots. But roots can cause havoc in built environments. From warped pavements and roads to fires from branches on powerlines, even underground utilities are disrupted. For this reason, the planning, planting and maintenance of trees are usually too costly for local government to consider.
The only way to get things done is to do them yourself. Some of the most expensive properties on the market boast gorgeous trees to accentuate their character. Go to an up-market street now and have a look. Some of the multi-million-dollar houses are even architecturally moulded around the trunk.
Full Potential Landscapes went a step further by bringing real trees inside the Home Show. They are one of many landscaping providers who can share advice on transforming your back yard with trees.
Trees come in all shapes and sizes. You can find trees to complement house colour, produce beautiful fall colours, delicious fruit or less falling leaves if you have a pool. There’s something for everyone!