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Behind the scenes: Growing a Greenfleet forest

Behind the scenes: Growing a Greenfleet forest

2019 is an exciting year at Greenfleet as we aim to put more than 200,000 native trees into the ground. 

This year, our focus is on revegetating 14 sites spread across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and even New Zealand by partnering with local authorities, state governments and private landholders. 

Did you know that it takes minimum 12 months to organise the revegetation of one site? We rarely talk about all the work that goes into establishing and protecting resilient, biodiverse forests.

Here is a rare insight into the behind-the-scenes of planting a forest - come with us on the journey… 

How we restore native forests 

At Greenfleet, we are committed to establishing resilient and self-sustaining carbon forests. Each project is individually designed to suit landscape, climate and soil conditions. 

We work in consultation with the landholder or land manager and undertake extensive research to select the appropriate mix of native species for the forest.  

After conducting site preparation which may include ripping and weed control, we work with professional tree planting contractors to plant or seed our native trees. These experts have a thorough understanding of how to best plant trees to ensure the success of a project. 

The two most common ways to revegetate large areas of land are by direct seeding or hand planting. We base our selected approach on the site and climate conditions.  

Direct seeding involves a purpose-built machine which scalps the soil, drops the seeds and covers them to the appropriate depth based on the species. Over the years, we have worked in partnership with our suppliers to develop this technology.  

Hand planting involves people planting seedlings by hand. A hole is manually dug, the seedling is placed inside, and the air pockets are removed by gently packing the soil down. While this technique is more intensive, it allows for additional control of planting design. 

Scientific data and our considerable experience over the years inform the best planting time for each project based on weather and soil conditions. When the time is right, the seeds are sown, and the trees planted. 

Our work does not end here, however - we are committed to monitoring our forests. 

How we monitor and protect our forests  

When a Greenfleet forest is planted, the landholder retains ownership of the land. We establish agreements with the landholder to secure the forest on the land for up to 100 years. This means the landowner must protect the forest by not damaging or removing trees for the duration of the agreement.  

We typically monitor the growth of our forests within six months after seeding or planting and then 12 months after that. Once we are satisfied that the forest is established and resilient (usually five years after seeding or planting), we conduct remote monitoring. This is to ensure the forest is being successfully maintained and on track to achieve projected carbon commitments. 

Where an area of planting has failed, we may undertake remedial action, like in-fill planting.


Measuring the carbon  

Greenfleet forests are natural carbon sinks which capture carbon from the atmosphere as they grow. 

We use the Full Carbon Accounting Model (FullCAM) issued by the Australian Department of the Environment to model the carbon uptake of our forest at each planting site. Where FullCAM is not available for a project area, we use the Reforestation Modelling Tool (RMT) (also issued by the Australian Department of the Environment).  

Each forest absorbs carbon at different rates based on the landscape, location and vegetation types – this rate is called “carbon yield”. At Greenfleet, we manage our forests as a “carbon pool”, so we can undertake invaluable reforestation work across Australia and New Zealand on sites with both high and low carbon yields. 

This is it. By the time we kick off our boots for the planting season in September 2019, 440 ha of land will have started the transformation back to native bush thanks to our generous supporters and donors. And we think this is pretty amazing!