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Powering up a Prehistoric Forest

27 Jan 2017 at 12:00AM

 

The Daintree Lowland hosts an ancient rainforest with a genetic lineage going back 135 million years. This amazing place sits between the Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Areas in Far North Queensland. Unfortunately, it is now under imminent threat from climate change and development.

To help protect and conserve this unique habitat, Rainforest Rescue has been working with the local community to rescue threatened rainforest and restore degraded land. Over the last 18 years we’ve planted around 100,000 trees to reforest the Daintree.

Powering this effort is Rainforest Rescue's Native Nursery. The nursery was set up by the local community in the 1990's and was handed over to Rainforest Rescue so that the efforts to reforest the area could continue. All trees propagated at the nursery grow from seeds collected from over 25 local rainforest reserves. We've grown over 210 species - including 16 prehistoric trees - from seed and are continually finding new native plants to grow.

 

The nursery infrastructure is basic  and there is no electricity on site. This compromises  our capacity  across to germinate seeds, or use a computer. We're now running a program to to install solar electricity and a lock-up so we have renewable power and can securely store equipment on-site. 

Our  supporters generously donated some of the technology needed,  including solar panels and a shipping container. We recently ran a successful crowd-funding appeal to acquire the rest of the technology; set up the solar panels  and connect to a battery system and to transport and install the  container.

Globally 15 billion trees were chopped or burned down in 2015. It is estimated that half of the trees on the planet have been lost over human history. Current rates of deforestation around the world mean vulnerable tree species are getting scarcer.

The Daintree is a remnant of the oldest rainforest in the world with a lineage going back 70 million years before the extinction of the dinosaurs. Tragically, the last thirty years of land clearance, introduction of non-native invasive species and inappropriate development have undermined the conservation of this unique and truly beautiful place.

The Daintree Native Nursery plays an important role in helping re-wild this special place. It is a focal point for local conservation action and has the important job of growing trees for reforestation projects. The installation of renewable power will help us increase the productivity of the nursery whilst keeping a small footprint.

 

Many local people benefit from the reforestation of the area:  volunteers, rangers, indigenous groups and the wider Daintree community.  However, the impact is much wider since this is an internationally  important habitat with many endangered and unique species that need  protection. This year a new cancer drug was developed from a tree that  is found only in this area.

The Tropical Far North Queensland environment is fantastic for rainforest and the myriad of amazing species living in the forest. However, with an average of over 2m of rain per annum and very hot and humid conditions for most of the year, it’s not so great for people.

With  no power, the simplest of tasks are made more difficult. Connecting the  solar panels with a good battery system will give a renewable power  source for the nursery. The panels will be installed on the shipping  container. To survive the battering from the sun wind and rain, a sturdy  frame will be built to house the solar system. The container will also  need good foundations to stop it from rusting away in the wet  conditions.

Category: Blog
Tags: conservation, Daintree, National Park, Native Plants, Nursery, rainforest, Solar Power, Sustainability,

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