SATISFYING: Phil Heaton, with some pigface to transplant at last year's event.
SATISFYING: Phil Heaton, with some pigface to transplant at last year's event. NIKKI BENNETTS

Seniors planting trees and hope for the future

THERE'S a lot more to National Tree Day than many people realise.

There are two sites set up on the Central Coast where people can take part on the weekend of July 29-30, and many of those grabbing their hats and gloves will be seniors, and families with young kids.

But there's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes both before and after the event and the groups would love an extra hand.

Phil Heaton is co-ordinator of Budgewoi Beach Dunecare which has been toiling for 23 years to turn the bitou bush-infested monoculture, degraded by mining, into a balanced ecosystem.

And it's working.

"It's a joy to be able to get up in the morning because at last count we had 78 bird species flying through the area and the wallabies and echidnas are coming back to this balanced environment we've created,” Phil said. "It's incredibly satisfying.”

Each year the group has 50-100 people join in Tree Day activities which, thanks to the Lions Club, include a barbecue for the workers, who last year planted out about 600 plants.

But that's neither the beginning nor the end. Budgewoi Beach Dunecare propagates all its own endemic plant species, and of course follow-up watering after the planting is critical.

"It's definitely not as simple as sticking some plants in the ground and walking away,” Phil laughed.

The group has a 90-95% strike rate with its plantings, which number 3-5000 each year.

The majority of the volunteer group are retirees, about a dozen of whom show up to work Tuesday and Friday mornings maintaining sites, watering, weeding and propagating.

They've successfully gained grants and corporate support to help them out, and have been able to build access ways, a boardwalk and viewing platform, as well as achieve E2 (environment conservation) status.

The Budgewoi event runs from 9-11am on Sunday. Meet at the south carpark at Budgewoi Beach.

At Bensville, they are getting in a day early, and from 9.30am-12.30pm on Saturday, you can support the Yellow-bellied Glider Habitat by helping to plant, mulch and stake up to 1000 native trees at Doyle St Bushland (off The Scenic Rd).

This will provide future feeding sites for the local Yellow-bellied Gliders and other animals, and on the day there will be two walks at 10am and 11am to investigate nest boxes, as well as native animals to meet courtesy of Taronga Zoo mobile, and a free barbecue brekkie for early arrivals.

Gloves, tools and equipment will be provided at all sites.

For more information, go to http://treeday.planetark.org and click on Find an Event or call Rebecca Dugan at Central Coast Council, which supports the events, on (02) 4350 5734.


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