Koala tree planting idea sprouts to life
MUCH like the saplings in her hand, Hayley Talbot is hoping her idea to help local bushfires will sprout and grow tall.
Ms Talbot through her business Blanc Space and project partner former professional surfer Daniel Ross have created the "Caring for the Clarence" project where they will plant 5000 trees to help rebuild the local koala population savaged by recent bushfires.
The pair partnered with the NSW Government Save Our Species program to fund the initiative, and Ms Talbot said she wanted to contribute to the area in a tangible way.
"I wanted to do something that has some longevity that would help us as a community and help our homeland heal," she said.
And while the effort to plant 5000 trees on private properties around the Mororo and Woombah area may seem like a mammoth task for a group reduced in numbers by COVID restrictions, Ms Talbot said they worked at it one tree at a time.
"I really feel like it's been a great example of what any community member can do if they're passionate and energetic."
Guided by conservation scientists and using trees of local provenance, the program used data from Google Earth combined with data on koala sightings to plant areas of use to sustain the population.
"From there it was about engaging with local property owners because every tree we've planted has been on private land," Ms Talbot said.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, who was onsite at a property in Mororo on Tuesday to see the work, said the government was pleased to contributed $45,000 to fund the project.
"This is a terrific public/private partnership between the NSW Government's Saving Our Species program and Yamba business, Blanc Space Agency, that goes well beyond habitat restoration," he said.
"The pilot project also tells the story of Clarence Valley koalas through social media videos, and encourages local communities to report sightings through the I Spy Koala app."
Ms Talbot said as well as the koala population being helped, the project served to help people heal from the devastation of recent events.
"I think the mental health aspects of it can't be overstated," she said.
"The actual act of picking up a sapling, putting it in the ground, and knowing it's going to grow … it's a really powerful tonic for how challenging these times are. It's quite special.
"I really hope that as well as the act itself of planting the trees, it demonstrates to people what you can do if you have an idea, and you're passionate and energetic, you can get a team of people together and do good things."