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Regreening the Cotter

A decade of community repair work in Canberra’s water catchment

The Canberra community has been involved in a truly remarkable feat. Over the past decade, volunteers from Canberra and the surrounding region have planted out over 500 hectares of the Lower Cotter – our water supply catchment.

To celebrate this huge achievement, at our 31 May World Environment Day planting Minister Shane Rattenbury released a report which chronicles the volunteer efforts and their effects on biodiversity and water quality.

We trace the journey from the 2003 bushfires, which raged through the forests of the western ACT, taking the lives of four Canberrans and destroying the homes of hundreds of people. Over two-thirds of the ACT was burnt in the fires, including the forests of the Lower Cotter Catchment.

Since then, Greening Australia and the ACT Government have coordinated volunteers from Canberra and the surrounding region to plant 306,343 seedlings from 62 species of native trees, shrubs and grasses have been used in this process.

These areas are now growing into diverse native forests, ensuring better water for our future. The community plantings have proved remarkably successful, with our monitoring showing average survival rates of nearly 80%.

Huge community events attended by over 500 people and small regular volunteer teams have all contributed their share to the cause. In total, nearly 15,000 people have been involved in this effort, dedicating 47,295 hours of their own time. These people have come from all walks of life, showcasing the diversity of our community. Through getting their hands dirty, volunteers from across our region have also formed a connection to this place and come away with a greater understanding of the importance this water supply catchment.

In all, the regreening of the Lower Cotter Catchment is an achievement of which our community can be incredibly proud.

Download the report.

Volunteer in the Cotter Volunteer in the Cotter