Planting for the reef

The Mulgrave Landcare and Catchment Group helped plant almost 5,000 trees south of Cairns last year to help restore one of the Great Barrier Reef catchment’s vital coastal wetlands as part of Reef Aid.

The scenic site at Fig Tree Lagoon near Fishery Falls was low lying land once used for sugarcane production.

“Together with the landholder and landcare group, we are in the process of restoring a wetland on the Fig Tree property to improve water quality and habitat, and tree planting forms an important part of that work. The site was selected due to its being a focal point for the drainage from surrounding sugar cane farms into the Mulgrave River which empties into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon, and because of the strong track record of the Mulgrave Landcare and Catchment Group,” said Greening Australia Coastal Wetlands and Rivers Program Manager, Niall Connolly.

“We believe the site has the potential to provide more than just value as habitat and we’re in the process of designing a ‘treatment train’ to improve water quality by removing the sediment and nutrients that are currently draining into Fig Tree Lagoon and ultimately, into the Great Barrier Reef.”

Mulgrave Landcare and Catchment Group coordinator Lisa O’Mara said getting an opportunity to restore low-lying land on properties like this was very important.

“These particular areas in the lower Mulgrave catchment around Fishery Falls and Fig Tree Creek have very high biodiversity values. Our goal is to create wildlife corridors from river to reef,” she said.

“We are hoping to use this site as a showcase of best management practice in revegetation and other sustainable farm practices, such as nutrient and sediment treatment.

“As a Landcare group we are always looking for cane farmers that have marginal cane land adjacent to creeks and rivers that would like to see their creek banks revegetated or areas rehabilitated into wetland habitat. Our group has the capacity and knowledge to work in partnership with landholders and organisations such as Greening Australia, with a great outcome.”

The planting was supported by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust program and long-term partner AccorHotels, which provides ongoing funding for tree planting to support a range of our large-scale restoration projects across Australia through their ‘Plant for the Planet’ program.

The program is funded through the money saved by guests who agree to reuse their towels for more than a day which is then invested in tree-planting projects such as this one at Fig Tree Lagoon.

This Reef Aid project is supported by the Australian Government, AccorHotels, Ian Potter Foundation and Virgin Australia, and delivered in partnership with the Reef Trust.