Our Big Scrub Rainforest is in better condition thanks to the huge efforts of 45 Green Army participants on five teams over the last 2½ years. As Green Army participant Jacob Fiedler said “It has been a ripper of a time”.
Envite Environment Green Army supervisor, Shannon Smedley, who has led four of those teams of young people, said “We have planted over 14,000 rainforest plants, managed weeds across 47.5ha of rainforest and propagated over 6000 rainforest trees”.
Dan Cox, Envite Environment restoration ecologist said “This is not easy work. Teams have dealt with heat, rain, ticks and leeches. They have controlled weeds which degrade rainforest while contending with spiky and stinging plants. It is a great credit to the teams that they have pulled together and achieved so much.”
Shannon continued, “This has been a massive effort by young Green Army participants. It means that with the end of the fifth project this week, we have really made a difference. The teams have improved the future for Big Scrub rainforest and the habitat it provides for many plants and animals including threatened species.”
President of Big Scrub Landcare, Dr Tony Parkes, recognised the contribution of Green Army at the graduation of the final team, “On behalf of Big Scrub Landcare, I thank each of our Green Army participants for the work undertaken in restoring critically endangered Big Scrub rainforest.”
Dr Parkes continued, “Your work has reduced the threat of weeds across many of our remaining rainforest remnants. Your tree planting has extended and connected areas of rainforest. We have been restoring the Big Scrub for 25 years. In another 25 years you will be able to come back and walk among towering trees that you planted and be proud of your achievements.” Your plantings and the rainforest you have restored will outlive us all and provide benefits for the environment and future generations.“
Green Army is an Australian Government Programme for 17 to 24 year olds. Over the past 2 ½ years Envite Environment has managed over 50 Green Army projects engaging around 500 young people. Projects have been run in partnership with Landcare groups, local councils, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and other community groups. The program was cut in late 2016 and the last of Envite Environment’s Green Army project will be completed by mid 2017.
Green Army has provided significant environment benefits. It has given many young people hope and a pathway to developing work experience, confidence and direction. Clee Worts, participant on the last Big Scrub Green Army team, said “It has made me become optimistic about a brighter future for the environment. While fellow participant Olivia Donaldson said “Green Army has made me realise the opportunities for work and study in a field I am very passionate about.”
Supervisor Shannon Smedley said “Green Army has inspired participant from all 5 Big Scrub teams to go on to study Conservation and Land Management at TAFE, others have jobs as bush regenerators, in local nurseries and apprenticeships in horticulture. One of our past Green Army participants is now a Green Army supervisor herself, with her team graduating with us. So many good things have come from Green Army.”
Dan Cox concluded “Green Army teams have provided much need labour to assist Landcare and other organisations in restoring our natural environment. Green Army will be missed”.