Covid-19 restrictions, social distancing and self-isolation have seen considerable impacts on business-as-usual operations for countless organisations. It goes without saying that safety restrictions have had far reaching impacts, influencing our interactions, discussions and how we do things on a day to day basis. You might wonder ‘how are these changes affecting Big Scrub Landcare and our many partners in delivering important restoration work and in our other activities?’

Fortunately, the restoration industry is alive and well in these strange times. It is the middle of the planting season and teams of professional regenerators are out in the paddocks working at a safe distance from each other digging holes, planting, watering and mulching thousands of rainforest trees. The recommended spacing for planting rainforest trees is usually 1.8m, the perfect distance to allow works to continue without risk of transferring virus particles. Similarly, weed control and site monitoring activities can be undertaken with social-distancing protocols in place. Professional bush regenerators are continuing these works with additional considerations to hygiene and safe travel arrangements to and from site.

The Big Scrub Landcare management team have also made adjustments. We have discovered that technology has enabled us to continue our many other activities including the development of new projects and grant applications, writing newsletters and coordination of restoration projects. Big Scrub Landcare, alongside our partners, have dived into the virtual world with increased reliance on video conferencing, remote document sharing and Facetime discussions to ensure progress is not hampered whilst working from home.

For landholders undertaking works, the Federal Government declared that, “The running of and the visiting of nurseries is an essential service.” This reflects what many of us have known for some time, people need trees for their mental health and the environment needs trees for its physical health. People aren’t travelling, holidaying or hanging out in cafes, they are gardening, regenerating and planting. People can be seen wandering about on their properties discovering trees they haven’t seen for years, removing lantana from forgotten corners and remembering long lost half completed restoration projects. It is likely that this forced isolation has led to an increase in local projects and the regeneration of the Big Scrub.

Further afield, some amazing reports have come from around the globe describing dramatic changes in air and water quality as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns. The peaks of the Himalayas are visible for the first time in over three decades and the canals of Venice are clear enough to see schools of fish. It is these examples that will hopefully lead to global conversations around how we can do things differently to lessen our footprint on the planet.

In your own backyard, the weather is perfect for gardening, weeding or planting. So, get away from your screens and make the most of this time for self-restoration and rainforest restoration!

Thank you to Mark Dunphy from Firewheel Rainforest Nursery for your contributions to this story.