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New chums and old hands at the planting festival

News article |

The 2013 Planting Festival was a great success, with tens of thousands of seedlings planted on Kangaroo Island.

One hundred students from the University of South Australia (UniSA) travelled to Kangaroo Island (KI), joining with two hundred more volunteers to help with KI’s annual planting festival held on the first weekend in July.

While the traditional festival elements were present: threatening weather, gourmet food, thousands of seedlings, gumboot fashions and outstanding organisation, this year’s festival had some special features.

The planting took place on Michael and Michelle Lane’s property at American River. Planting festival co-ordinator Heiri Klein was very pleased to have the opportunity to revegetate their land.

‘The diverse species of a small remnant patch of vegetation on this property is a promising sign of the habitat potential of the site. Adjacent to the property there is also a small population of Beyeria subtecta, a plant species which is nationally threatened and only occurs on Kangaroo Island. When the opportunity for revegetation presented itself it was an easy choice to make, since this site is ideally located to make a real difference to a plant unique to KI', he said.

Michelle is a print artist and as a sign of appreciation for the hard work of the volunteer tree planters, she produced four different prints of KI plants and offered volunteers their choice of a print.

One of the plants featured on a print was the Oleariea microdisca. This plant, another one which grows only on KI, is also identified as nationally threatened. A survey in 2002 showed there were only around 2,200 plants left on the island. However, due to the efforts of the Threatened Plant Project team, collected seed has been germinated and nurtured with the outcome that 1700 seedlings were planted over the weekend.

Volunteers Rebecca Schulz and Penny Kleeman were thrilled to receive their prints from Michelle. Rebecca first attended the planting festival as a UniSA student five years ago and had such a great time that she encouraged her friend Penny to join her the next year. Since then, they’ve come every year.

In response to the question as to why they keep returning, Rebecca said: ‘It’s the community working together with hands-on involvement in a project. I love the banter that goes on between the volunteers as we do the planting’.

‘And it’s also that they look after the volunteers so well’, added Penny.

Both women also volunteer on the mainland in various conservation projects and environmental advocacy.

The weather smiled on the festival enabling 56,300 seedlings to be planted by the 311 volunteers. The youngest planter was Ivy Marsh aged nine months who helped plant two trees. Ivy has already been signed up for next year by her enthusiastic father.

The Threatened Plant Project is supported by funding obtained by the KI Natural Resources Management Board through the Caring For Our Country Program and BIO-R, a non-profit environmental organisation. It contributes significantly towards native vegetation management and restoration targets in the KI Natural Resources Management Plan.

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