From little things...
Restock countryside with native trees to benefit the environment and fauna
T OMORROW is National Tree Day.
The day, co-ordinated by Planet Ark, provides on-the-ground support at local community tree planting sites Australia-wide. Since the first National Tree Day in 1996, more than three million participants have planted more than 21 million native trees, shrubs and grasses. What a great effort.
There are plenty of ways you can get involved. If you’d like to participate in an organised planting, you can search for a site near you on treeday.planetark.org or call the hotline on 1300 885 000. But you can do your bit by simply planting a native tree or shrub in your own garden.
So why are trees so important? Trees help combat the greenhouse effect and slow the effects of global warming, soaking up carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen for us to breathe. They help prevent soil erosion and salinisation, as well as improving water quality by filtering out nutrients and pesticides. Trees provide food and shelter to native wildlife. They also provide shade, and a well-placed tree can help to keep a home or other area cool in summer. On a large scale, tree planting can lower the temperature in built-up areas, reducing the “heat island” effect of intensive development.
There is a large and growing body of research that confirms the benefits of access to the natural environment in childhood development, and in general health and wellbeing. Areas with well-maintained green spaces have been shown to have lower crime rates and increased property values.
If you’re going to plant a tree in your garden, make sure you’re not planting a problem. Most suburban backyards are too small to accommodate a large tree, so find out how big the tree will be when it is fully grown. Planting a tree is a pretty inexpensive and quick activity, but removing a large tree that has been planted in the wrong place is definitely not. Apart from the size of your mature plant, you need to consider the position. Make sure you choose something that is suitable, bearing in mind the type of soil, amount of sun, extent of protection from wind and salt, and so on. Your local garden centre staff will be able to help you here.
Shrubs, because they are smaller, are much easier to place. There are lots of different varieties of grevilleas, banksias, syzygiums, and acmenas which grow 1-4m tall, making them ideal for the home garden. There are many, many, other small native plants that are very attractive and well suited to growing in our gardens, including native grasses, groundcovers and climbing plants.
National Tree Day is particularly concerned with increasing the stock of native plants because of the need to provide food and habitat for native animal species. But bear in mind that many exotic plants are non-invasive and also support native animals.
Native trees come in all shapes and colours like the grevillea johnsonii.