This week Samantha Morris caught up with Dave Pinson and Connie Kerr, the founders of Daintree Life, to ask about their work and vision for the Daintree Rainforest.
Connie Kerr and Dave Pinson of Daintree Life
Sam: What’s inspired you to establish Daintree Life?
Connie: Dave and I have been involved with wildlife care for decades. We rehabilitate many species, but specialise in bats. We run training courses all over Australia and have written a comprehensive flying-fox care manual. We believe a vital part of rehabilitation is ensuring animals have good habitat to return to. With so much habitat destruction occurring throughout Australia, we feel expanding habitat is essential.
Dave: When we moved to Far North Queensland we continued with our care for bats and then set up and managed a very successful tree planting project south of the Daintree River in 2015. We raised the funds through donations and grants and we ended up planting 20,000 trees. Throughout our planting projects, we particularly value working and consulting with a number of traditional owners, who provide valuable cultural, historical and species knowledge.
Dave: When we came to live in Daintree Lowland Rainforest in 2017, Kelvin Davies, the founder of Rainforest 4 pointed out a great opportunity to us. There’s lots of cleared land in the Daintree that needs restoring, with obsolete roads and roadsides being the most obvious. Kelvin said we could be the ones to make that happen, which sowed the seeds for Daintree Life to embark on revegetation.
Ready for Action, Dave Pinson of Daintree Life
Sam: So, what is it that Daintree Life wants to achieve?
Dave: We have a plan! In the 1980’s the Daintree was carved up in a rural residential subdivision of 1,100 blocks. That created over 50km of roads. We spent several weeks mapping these roadsides and found there was enough cleared land to plant 500,000 trees. Then we went to the Douglas Shire Council. Planting trees on obsolete roads and weedy roadsides actually saves Council money through reduced maintenance and after a few meetings we got a very encouraging and supportive thumbs up to plant trees.
Connie: On top of that there is a fair bit of private land cleared for development or farming. Some of those plans have now been abandoned or changed, and some of those landholders have invited us to look at their properties with a view to planting. So now we have the plan and the target, 500,000 trees!
Dave: We are both keen photographers and love sharing our work via social media and website. We use these platforms to present and educate about the amazing flora and fauna that makes up this unique ecosystem.
Another Daintree road closed and ready for tree planting
Sam: Who is planting all those trees?
Connie: We prepare the sites by removing the weeds and digging thousands of holes. Then we hold community tree planting events and get volunteers involved. That way we can get about 500 trees planted every hour. In addition to the community events, we have friend and supporters who visit and Dave helps them with planting!
Sam: How many trees have been planted so far?
Dave: Since we started in November 2018 the tree tally is 3,869, with a further 1885 trees being planted in this coming month.
Connie: Now we are planting trees every month and the numbers grow just like the trees!
Volunteers Kirsten and Floran restoring the Daintree Lowland Rainforest
Sam: Have you seen any Cassowaries where you are planting?
Connie: Yes, we live in the Daintree and we see them every few days. Our planting sites in Cow Bay have lots of visiting cassowaries. We see them now and then, but we can see where they’ve been by the piles of Cassowary poo!
Dave: We also see other wildlife, like Spectacled Flying Foxes, Musky Rat-kangaroos, Boyd’s Forest Dragons, many bird species and on very rare occasions, the Bennetts Tree-kangaroo.
Sam: How can people get involved?
Dave: If you are visiting the Daintree Rainforest, we’ll have opportunities for you to plant trees with us over the next few months. In April we are planting a wide grassy strip in Cow Bay with 785 trees in stages and people are invited to contact us to get involved and in July we’ll be hosting a National Tree Day event. People can contact us for details.
Boyds Forest Dragon: Pic by Connie Kerr
Sam: Dave and Connie, thanks for everything you are doing to restore the Daintree, we wish you every success.
Connie: We couldn’t achieve anything without the support of the many donors who make our work possible, and a special thank you to Rainforest 4 and your very generous donors.
Thanks to our generous donors Rainforest 4 provides financial supporting to Daintree Life to keep this important project growing.