Rainforest Rescue: Protecting the world’s oldest tropical rainforest

Project Stories Jun 22, 2020
“It is the world’s refugium, where life began. The Daintree has the capacity to reseed the Earth should a catastrophe ever happen. There are rare, amazing animals that exist only here. It’s a crazy, magical world up there!” – Branden Barber, CEO of Rainforest Rescue

The Daintree Rainforest is a part of the world’s oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest, and the most complex ecosystem on Earth. It is home to 42 endangered animal species and 144 endangered plant species. Unfortunately, it was designated for development and was divided into lots. When the development did not take off as expected, Rainforest Rescue saw an opportunity to restore the Daintree and protect the natural habitat of these endangered species.

While there plenty of houses in the area now, Rainforest Rescue is aiming to reduce the impact of humans in the area by buying back lots of the rainforest and connecting them to each other and to the national park, in addition to reforesting the area with some 12,000 trees a year.

In this month’s Worthy Cause interview series, our member Wayne Schmidt got in touch with CEO Branden Barber and Engagement Coordinator César Barbosa at Rainforest Rescue, and found out what it takes to restore, reconnect, and protect the Daintree Rainforest, beyond just reforestation.

“Conservation is ultimately where we want to put our energy – once it (the Daintree Rainforest) is gone, it’s hard to put back in place.” – Branden Barber, CEO of Rainforest Rescue

Here are 4 things we learned about rescuing rainforests:

Why the Daintree needs protecting

The lower Daintree was once slated for development while the upper Daintree was slated as a national park. It was divided into multiple lots and unfortunately development did not happen as planned. Many houses have been built but there hasn’t been the expansion that was initially planned for.

Now the impact of humans in the area has to be reduced to protect the forest and Rainforest Rescue does that by buying back lots of endemically pristine rainforest and connecting those blocks together, hopefully to the national park or to other nature reserves.

Protecting rainforests is harder than you thought

The various lots of land are owned by many different people. They then decide that it may not be the best place to live (due to bugs, humidity and inconvenience) and they are willing to sell that land for conservation. Development rights for the land are removed and then a nature refuge status has to be established. It could take up to 10 years to achieve nature refuge certification.

What happens to land that has already been developed?

Land would have to be rehabilitated and it depends on what it was previously used for. One of the lots was an oil palm nursery used for landscaping and once the developers were done with lot, it went to ruin. The work required to rehabilitate an oil palm nursery is quite different from a cane field restoration.

What work goes into rehabilitating the lots?

The land manager first has to go out to look for species that can be used for propagation – there are 300 main species in the rainforest and 150 of that will be brought together in an organized array in order to create the natural beginnings of what will then become a rainforest. Animals will then return as the forest emerges and they bring other species with them, creating the natural nature system. So far 34 lots have been rescued, and 4 wildlife corridors created.

Branden and César also talked about their goals and how you can help them protect this jewel in Australia’s crown of biodiversity.

Watch the interview here.

Stephanie Ching

Stephanie’s boisterous personality and bright smile delights us and everyone she interacts with every day.

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