Celebrating five years of the Restoring Australia initiative

Officeworks’ tree planting initiative, Restoring Australia, is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month in partnership with Greening Australia.

Launched in 2017 as part of Officeworks’ commitment to make a positive difference to people and the planet, the Restoring Australia initiative has a goal to plant two million trees nationally by 2025.

The partnership has planted 1.24 million trees to date, planting two trees for every one ‘used’ based on the weight of paper and wood products customers purchase at Officeworks.

Over the past five years, 1,800 hectares of land has been restored, spanning 19 sites nationally. In 2022, more than 240,000 native trees will be planted in three regions between June – November to restore Australia’s natural landscape and biodiversity. The new planting season will focus on sites including the West Australian Wheatbelt, the Victorian Otways and the Tasmanian Midlands.

Greening Australia’s Dr Elizabeth Pietrzykowski (left) walks alongside Tasmanian landholder Julian von Bibra (right) at his property in the Tasmanian Midlands, where the Restoring Australia initiative has been planting native trees since 2017. Credit: Hayden Dib.

Officeworks Head of ESG and Corporate Affairs, Ryan Swenson said the longstanding initiative is having a positive impact on people and the planet across the country.

“We developed Restoring Australia in 2017 after listening to our customers, who told us it was important that Officeworks was committed to sourcing paper sustainably and contributed positively to the planet. What we also heard was they recognised sustainability is a shared effort. Restoring Australia is a simple way for Australians to shop more sustainably, simply by purchasing their paper products with us. Our achievements to date are shared, thanks to our customers, team members and planting partner Greening Australia who have supported the planting of 1.24 million trees across Australia,” Mr Swenson said.

“We have a huge goal to plant two million trees by 2025. Over the past five years, our partnership with Greening Australia has allowed us to support local landholders and communities to regenerate land and return lost fauna and flora back into the environment. We are committed to taking meaningful climate action and recognise the important role that tree planting and large-scale land restoration must play. We were thrilled to reach the one million tree mark last year and we’re well on our way to planting our next million trees.”

Planting lines for the 2022 seedlings stretch in to the distance on Julian Von Bibra’s property. Credit: Hayden Dib.

Five years ago, 29,031 seeds and seedlings were planted on the first Restoring Australia site in the Tasmanian Midlands on farmland belonging to farmer Julian von Bibra. Today on the property, 161,754 trees stand tall across 250 hectares of land and a further 29,859 trees will be planted through the initiative this month across an additional 23 hectares.

The restoration of land has been felt firsthand by Julian, who has since seen an immediate micro-climate change on his property together with improved river health and water quality and renewed biodiversity of the land with native animals returning and bird life increasing.

“As farmers and landholders, it’s not just about the produce we take to market, we have the responsibility to manage the landscape for future generations and at times this can feel overwhelming. Having the support of Greening Australia and Officeworks is so important, it makes the bigger picture more achievable and provides the resource, expertise and funding to restore parts of the landscape in ways that complement our agricultural needs,” said Mr von Bibra.

An aerial view of the landscape shows riparian vegetation being restored on Julian Von Bibra’s property. Credit: Hayden Dib.

In addition to helping threatened species, the sustainability focused initiative has helped Julian rehabilitate riparian areas where grazing animals had impacted river banks. The next phase of planting activity, together with Restoring Australia and Greening Australia, focuses on connecting fragmented native remnant vegetation via planting arrangements that integrate into the agricultural landscape, such as shelter belts, and linking these with other properties and landholders to reinstate the eastern tiers of Tasmania with the western tiers for increased biodiversity.

Greening Australia Director of Great Southern Landscapes and Nature in Cities, Paul Della Libera, said: “We urgently need to scale up our efforts to tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, but we can’t do it alone. Through working in partnership with corporates like Officeworks and with local landholders and communities, we can take practical and large-scale action to restore landscapes, increase biodiversity, improve water quality and store carbon. Together, we’re able to make change at scale in ways that benefit communities, economies and the environment. That change is evident when we revisit properties like Julian von Bibra’s to monitor restoration work five years on and plan the next impactful projects – the result is incredible to see.”

Restoring Australia is part of Officeworks’ People & Planet Positive 2025 plan that support the aspirations of its team members, enhance connections to local communities, reduce environmental impact, and sourcing products in sustainable and responsible ways.

More information on the initiative