Over 100,000 plants have been established through individuals and businesses supporting
Rainforest Rescue’s Plant a Rainforest Project. To showcase the outcomes, Rainforest Rescue has
established a demonstration site at the Crystal Castle, a visitor’s attraction in northern NSW.
The rainforest walk at the Crystal Castle winds amongst planted Pencil Cedars, Bangalow Palms and other
local native plants that thrive in what was previously an old grazing paddock. Only 100 years ago this area on
the New South Wales far north coast was part of “The Big Scrub”, the largest expanse of sub-tropical
rainforest in Australia. The Big Scrub originally covered 75,000 hectares between Byron Bay, Ballina and
Lismore, now, sadly, less than 1% remains. The scattered rainforest remnants contain a rich diversity of flora
and fauna, including fifty threatened species that need our help to survive.
Today on the rainforest walk cicadas trill loudly, Fig Birds feed on the berries from the Native Peach and
butterflies drift gracefully through the planting. In May 2006, Rainforest Rescue established the first trees in
its Plant a Rainforest Project inviting the community to get hands on. Already, some trees are five and six
metres tall. In March 2008, volunteers were again called forth to plant a diverse range of trees, shrubs and
understory species to bring the planting tally to an impressive 4,000 since the start of the project. Natural
regeneration of some species has occurred and with lots of rain during the past wet season over 7,000
plants are now thriving.
The rainforest walking track will be expanded to over a kilometre this year, as we plant and naturally
regenerate areas that are presently covered by pasture grasses and weeds such as Lantana. The work
to create a resilient healthy rainforest is well underway and demonstrates that with the right amount
of effort and expertise rainforest ecosystems can be restored. The rainforest walk at the Crystal Castle
is open to the public and is not just a place for rainforest species to seek sanctuary but provides a
nature experience for people to enjoy and learn about the fascinating Big Scrub, raising awareness
of rainforest conservation.
The Crystal Castle is just one of 10 sites on the New South
Wales far north coast where Rainforest Rescue is working to
re-establish rainforest, restore biodiversity, connect
fragmented habitats and sequester CO2.
Last year, in this region through the Plant a Rainforest Project
20,000 rainforest plants were established.
By Dave Rawlins.