Transforming the Great Ocean Road, one forest at a time
Stretching along the south coast of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road is one of the World’s most scenic coastal roads, boasting picturesque scenery. The contrast of the bright blue sparkling ocean with the colourful green hillsides is just breathtaking. In 2016, Greenfleet launched the Great Ocean Road Restoration Project where we’re working with local landholders to restore and transform bare land back to native bushland.
“Our vision is to convert this ‘un-farmable’ land back to native forest, blending into the existing forest that surrounds much of the property."
The project kick started in August 2016, when we planted 6,500 native trees and shrubs on Bill & Peter Wood’s property, just north of Apollo Bay, Vic. “Our vision is to convert this ‘un-farmable’ land back to native forest, blending into the existing forest that surrounds much of the property. Once established this will help to prevent weed growth and will add to the stunning natural environment. At the same time, we will be significantly aiding carbon reduction from the atmosphere, a national priority”, the Wood brothers said. In the first week of January 2017, we returned to the site just six months after the seedlings went into the ground. After a full day of climbing up and down the hill, counting trees and identifying species, Greenfleet’s Eoghan O’Connor was very pleased with the progress of the trees.
“I conducted a monitoring survey across 22 plots, randomly selected across the site,” explained Eoghan. “The results were great with an average stocking rate of 700 stems per hectare.”
Planting native trees on this property to establish a biodiverse forest presented a number of challenges. Kangaroos find the young leaves of many of our indigenous seedlings particularly delicious; so we had to protect the young trees from browsing.
“We need to give our seedlings the best start. We used three types of guards to protect the trees on this site until they grow past the ‘browsing stage’,” said Eoghan. “To ensure the forest doesn’t get devoured before it grows, we planted higher ratios of species that are less palatable to browsers and used large guard to heavily protect many of the delicious species such as Eucalypt, She-oak and Blackwood. We also surrounded some seedlings with dead blackberry canes to discourage animals from entering the area. All the guards will be removed within about two years when the saplings are bigger and stronger.”
"Some of the Eucalypts and Blackwoods are already one metre tall!"
“During my recent visit, I noticed that despite a slight amount of browsing, most of the trees were not affected and I was pleased to see that the guards are doing a great job at protecting the trees. Some of the Eucalypts and Blackwoods are already one metre tall!” reported Eoghan.
As it grows, the forest is sequestering carbon, providing habitat for native animals, such as koalas, and increasing the aesthetic appeal of the roadside. “Clearly we want to see the steady growth of a diverse native forest that blends naturally with the surrounding forest. We also look forward to accommodating a diverse range of native fauna, including koalas, wallabies, kangaroos and birds,” landholders Bill & Peter explained.
The reforestation of this Great Ocean Road property was made possible thanks to the funding and support from Europcar, one of Greenfleet’s major supporters since 2007. Together with their customers, Europcar takes climate action and offset carbon emissions. Their donations for the past couple of years have been directed to this project.
“Since partnering with Greenfleet, we have given our customers the opportunity to take action and help protect and re-build koala habitats, thanks to our carbon offset program. We are proud of our ongoing initiatives and believe that we have a responsibility to act on climate change. We will see the environmental benefits continue for years to come, as the trees Greenfleet have planted on our behalf grow into forests absorbing over 44,000 tonnes of CO2-e,” commented Ionie Felmingham, Head of Marketing Europcar.
Peter and Bill said, “It is marvellous to see corporations making such a direct contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases as well as overall improvement to our natural landscape. In the case of Europcar, where the contribution of their business to greenhouse gas is easily measured, we are delighted to be able to provide the land to help them offset these emissions. We hope that our governments might move more pro-actively in the same direction.”
"Diverse, healthy ecosystems are crucial to our long-term future."
The Wood brothers concluded, “We have knowledge today about the impacts of clearing that our forefathers did not have. Diverse, healthy ecosystems are crucial to our long-term future. There is growing community awareness and hence pressure to have more coordinated approaches to restoring ecosystems and we only hope this trend can continue to grow. Thanks for your partnership in this project!”