Throughout my career, the concept of the Forktree Project has always been at the back of my mind. The objective of the project is biodiversity restoration and tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon sequestration.
We’re currently producing too much carbon dioxide and not enough oxygen – the average Australian’s carbon footprint each year is roughly 25 tonnes – and trees are the best way of counteracting this. Australia has the fifth-biggest potential area on earth to plant trees. If we start returning those 58 million hectares of available land to nature, we could play the role of an enormous carbon sink and make a global difference.
To start with, we’re rewilding 53 hectares in South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula – in other words, returning it to the way it was before European settlers cleared it in the 1850s. We’re aiming to plant about 20,000 trees and shrubs – some of which are under threat of extinction – and tens of thousands of grasses. After five years, they’ll mature and start to produce their own seed and naturally self-propagate, letting nature take its course. Rewilding the land will also provide habitats for many native species, which will help improve and increase biodiversity in the local ecosystem.
The remaining three hectares of land will hold a rare seed orchard – a repository of rare plant species we can protect and easily harvest seed from. We can grow these plants in a nursery and export them into land restoration projects in the region.