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Greening Australia

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Jason Cummings, Chief Executive Officer for Greening Australia Capital Region, explains how this environmental organisation incorporates volunteers into its operations. Greening Australia has been around for more than 30 years and runs volunteering programs around the country. Many of its volunteers work in their nurseries or do other activities like collecting seeds, planting trees or bush regeneration. Volunteers also engage in tasks like monitoring and evaluations, communications and database work.


Above: Before and after panoramas of the same landscape as a result of Greening Australia's habitat restoration.     
Greening Australia is trying to work with landholders to improve the condition of native landscape, returning them to healthy and diverse native systems. Tree and shrub planting are major components of such work as is weed control. Retirees make up a lot of the Canberra based nursery work, some offering their services on a regular basis for more than 15 years.

Weekend planting events attract a greater cross section of the community, including families and corporate events add to such a cross sector. The economic benefits of the volunteers to the organisation is substantial. For example, the 500-600 volunteers that are involved in the Canberra-based Greening Australia program is the equivalent of employing 15 people in a full time capacity. Indeed, planting trees by volunteers is on a par with planting trees by contractors, with the added benefits of increased awareness of environmental concerns by those participating.

On World Environment day in 2011, for instance, over 150 volunteers turned up to plant 2,500 drooping she oaks, the habitat for the local Canberra-based Glossy black cockatoo. Click here for time lapse video record of this outstanding achievement. Such a turnout meant that Greening Australia did not need to employ contractors, a saving of some $18,000.

Greening Australia has links to the scientific community, not only with its own employees but with tertiary institutions like the University of Tasmania, Latrobe University and the Australian National University, supporting research on its projects and problems. To this end, Greening Australia is funding a PhD student to research the cost effectiveness of Greening Australia’s landscape restoration programs, with the aim of maximising positive biodiversity outcomes in such restorations. Interested people can register their interest at www.greeningaustralia.org.au or they could contact Volunteering Australia in their own state.
Greening Australia – a greenkeeper at work.


Jason Cummings was interviewed for A Question of Balance by Ruby Vincent. Images from Greening Australia. Summary text by Victor Barry, February 2014.

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