Buy a Tee, Plant a Tree ~ Q&A with Branden of Rainforest Rescue

Site of the Nursery The Daintree rainforest is one of the world’s greatest natural treasures and even though it is World Heritage listed, it is still under threat. Thankfully, there are people and organisations who have made it their life’s mission to protect and restore this remarkable part of the world. Our aim is to help them.

Funds from our tees will go towards the joint project of Rainforest Rescue together with Eastern Yalanji Traditional Owners and their representative corporation, Jabalbina, Greenfleet, and the Queensland Trust for Nature with the goal to plant ONE MILLION RAINFOREST TREES within 5-10 years.

We think that is a target well worth investing in. The future of our planet depends on us. It's in our Hands. Join us in this movement.

We caught up with our friend Branden of Rainforest Rescue to find out a little more on this inspiring project, some of their dreams for the future and some of the challenges they face in realising this ambitious restoration program.

Donations will be helping to support the new native Rainforest Rescue nursery; please can you tell us about the significance of this project?
The New Nursery which we’re planning to put on Lot 83, Cape Tribulation Rd, which we helped Queensland Trust for Nature secure for rescue, is the most significant restoration project Rainforest Rescue has ever been involved in; and something we are deeply excited about – for not only the Daintree – but the World.
The Daintree has suffered significant degradation through land clearing for development and agriculture over the years. As traditional agriculture is less and less sustainable, and economic benefits begin to recognise environmental benefits, Daintree restoration opportunities and demands are sharply increasing. To take advantage of opportunities that benefit the rainforest and all life it supports, those projects need locally-sourced, genetically-appropriate trees: they need them now and they need many more. Total nursery capacity in the Daintree region is low: between 4 small nurseries there is a total tree output of approx 28,000 trees. The current Rainforest Rescue Native Daintree Nursery itself accounts for almost half this capacity. This won't make the difference needed to restore the Daintree - it'll take hundreds more years at this level.
With climate change, habitat loss and the need to offset carbon that’s being released into the atmosphere, NOW is the time we need to scale up. QTFN intends to grant us the land we need to build a new, high-capacity nursery which will offer a significantly increased level of tree output, and we’re raising the funds towards this capital investment. This new Nursery will grow as many as ten times as many seedlings than currently grown (to over 100k+ annually) and to produce ONE MILLION RAINFOREST TREES within 5-10 years.

We reckon that is seriously significant! #TreesAreTheAnswer

Rainforest Rescue

Rainforest Rescue’s Land Manager, Justin McMahon, their Nursery Manager, Marine Deliens, and their Ecological Advisor, Allen Sheather, planning where to plant the new tree factory.

One of the goals is to conserve and rehabilitate this World Heritage site to such an extent that the Daintree becomes one of the only rainforests in the world that’s not in decline, but is in fact growing: how do you envision this project will inspire change around the world?

The Daintree has been heralded by some of the most famous ecologists and environmentalists, including David Suzuki and Sir David Attenborough, who see it as a world treasure that should be protected at all costs.
The wild places on the planet are under threat and disappearing. It’s everyone’s responsibility to protect the unprotected when its loss threatens everyone. In the Daintree, the world’s most ancient of rainforests, hundreds of hectares are open for development and thousands of hectares are in need of restoration and rewilding. It’s a great opportunity.
Endangered and endemic species like Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo and the Spotted Tail Quoll, the Idiot Fruit (Idiospermum) and Hope’s Cycad, are found nowhere else in the world. The Daintree is a refugia of life that goes back millions of years – and the Daintree itself has been evolving and thriving for as many as 180 million years!
Our primary concern right now is residential development as commercial opportunities are limited; we are trying to reduce the number of houses built in the Daintree. Though it’s not large scale development as such, house pads, infrastructure, building works, extended roads and increased traffic – all are bad news for the precious Daintree flora and fauna. We actively target and approach landowners whose properties are in high conservation rainforest. We want to protect land that links to the National Park, connecting these important wildlife corridors with our already rescued Rainforest Rescue properties.
At the same time as rescuing more and more properties, we will also be putting more and more trees on the land, replacing and rescuing rare Daintree habitat in a very measurable way.
Strategic partnerships that are united in this project’s success is hugely inspiring. Working side-by-side with the Eastern Yalanji Traditional Owners and their representative corporation, Jabalbina, we’ll run the nursery together. With Queensland Trust for Nature, we’re driving demand for trees for the new large-scale restoration projects that we are designing together. GreenFleet, an ethical carbon project that is itself a not for profit organisation, will help provide some of the funding. Additionally we’ll leverage Natural Capital and Accounting for Nature to help cover costs, and we’ll need the support of others to make this realistic yet ambitious restoration program successful. Partners like Arnhem and donors all over the world will help make the provision of so many needed trees possible.
This New Nursery will launch a level of restoration like never before, with 500+ acres identified and more coming. The devastated Daintree areas, Australia’s largest and most biodiverse rainforest and home to rare and endangered flora and fauna, CAN be repaired.

There is a lot of hope. And when we get this right, it’s a business model that could be replicated around the world.

Forest restoration has been the centre of global discussions about combating climate change, preventing species extinctions and improve farmers’ lives, but this is only effective if forests are maintained for decades: what are you doing differently to maximise the ecological, social and economic benefits in this region?

Well, you don’t need to manage a mature forest – Nature takes over. But initially it’s important to plant right and plant well – and for a couple of years to help the trees grow in the face of unpredictable weather and weeds. The fact that we are working with partners on a business structure that will employ the local community and the Traditional Owners is a major point of difference.
We are creating a large-scale Tree Factory where none exist at this size; to create large scale restoration. This is in a place where this has never been done before.
We are leveraging all different types of economic channels, too, to make this possible including ethical carbon and ermeging co benefits credit programs like the Cassowary Credits from Terrain NRM, amongst many more.
There is a larger benefit of globally driving tourism too – where people will come from all over the world, visit the Daintree, and this New Nursery will be one of first things they see. It’s very exciting to be working with Jabalbina Traditional Owners and QTFN with a presence right at the Gateway to the Daintree.

Here are some more details on the ecological, social and economic beneficiaries:

LOCAL COMMUNITY - the Daintree region is strong on tourism, many locals are engaged in this industry. Providing this new increased capacity nursery alongside a partnership with Jabalbina will help enhance the tourism offerings. Many want to perform meaningful acts as part of their adventures - we often get requests for planting trees. We’re not sure what we’ll do yet – but it will be meaningful.

NATIONAL COMMUNITY- the Daintree is part-protected as a World Heritage Area/National Park. The services that the Daintree provides extend from ecosystem services to habitat for endangered and endemic species on towards supporting tourism that supports Queensland’s, and Australia’s, economy. The Daintree is directly connected to the Great Barrier Reef and the health of the reef depends upon a healthy Daintree Rainforest …and the Daintree needs the rain and the clouds that nurture it, as part of the hydrogen cycle they share.

WORLD- Increasing our ability to plant more rainforest trees will benefit the world by helping to mitigate climate change. Rainforests are complex ecosystems and we believe they capture and sequester carbon at higher rates than the more common forests. We’ll actually be measuring this on our projects – improving the data sets available to science as we draw carbon down from the atmosphere. And rainforests enhance and protect biodiversity, literally holding together the web of life. This is good for everyone.

COUNTLESS PLANTS & ANIMALS- will also be positively impacted by having more of their habitat replanted. The Daintree holds 142 endangered or threatened flora and 44 endangered or threatened faunal species. These include threatened flora like: Endangered Blue Tassel Fern (Huperzia dalhousieana), Rare Russell River Lime (Microcitrus inodora) the Cooper’s Creek Walnut, and endangered animals incl Musky-rat Kangaroo, Spotted-tail Quoll, Bennett's Tree Kangaroo (images in supporting document) and the Southern Cassowary plus many more.

Beyond having an ecological impact this project will provide training and learning opportunities for Indigenous rangers on country, and will open up employment opportunities for first nations people: can you tell us about this?
JABALBINA Aboriginal Corporation - Jabalbina is the registered Cultural Heritage Body for Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama ensuring the landscape of Kuku Yalanji Bubu (lands) is both environmentally and culturally secure. Not only are they enthusiastic about establishment of this nursery for learning, skill-sharing and economic benefits, they were instrumental in securing the land for the new nursery through lobbying local council in our favour.

Jabalbina is keen to share staffing with non TO staff. We’re keen to create this new team that will see ultimately millions of magnificent Daintree trees propagated and grown.

What are 5 easy steps that anyone can do to help stop deforestation?

Planting trees is arguably one of the most proactive things we can do to mitigate climate change. Scientists, scholars, celebrities, school kids, pets…all agree that planting trees is a good idea.

And get out there! Being connected to Nature it helping us connect to ourselves. Science shows that being in Nature is good for our health – and we reckon it’s good for the soul. So get out there and spend more time in Nature.

More trees reduce atmospheric carbon and add oxygen to the atmosphere. A complex ecosystem like a rainforest does much more than that, providing habitat for the smallest of microbes to the most numerous insects to the rarest of animals…and the birds and the butterflies! The Daintree is amazing. Rainforests are amazing. Helping increase their footprint, adding trees to the borders and encouraging the extension of the rainforest will help protect the core as we continue to face a changing climate.

We think that: #TreesAreTheAnswer

And we reckon that everyone can #PlantTrees and everyone will benefit.

More trees reduce atmospheric carbon and adds oxygen to the atmosphere. A complex ecosystem like a rainforest does much more than that, providing habitat for the smallest of microbes to the most numerous insects to the rarest of animals…and the birds and the butterflies! The Daintree is amazing. Rainforests are amazing.

So 5 steps:
1 – Education, knowledge is power: arm yourself with all the wonderful reasons why planting trees really is a smart idea.
2. Plant a Tree! #TreesAreTheAnswer – in your backyard – with your local community
3. Come to our Tree Planting Day
4. Support organisations such as Rainforest Rescue
5. Buy a Tee!


Photographer: Darren Jew