Trees for Life Volunteer
with Clare

Tree for Life is a non for profit organisation that empowers members of the community to get directly involved with restoring natural habitats.

Tree for Life trains and organises an army of volunteers to collect seed, grow native trees, plant them in their natural environment and eradicate weed.

Wildhelpers catch up with volunteer Clare to see why she is a keen Tree for Life volunteer (discover also Clare's adventure volunteering with wombats).


Clare collecting seed

Note: This is NOT a tree producing native bears!

(All pictures supplied by Clare)

When did you start your volunteer career?

My main stream of conservation work began in the year 2001 when I became a member of Trees for Life.

Trees For Life Incorporated is a community of people working to revegetate South Australia and conserve its remnant vegetation which began 30 years ago.

I began work as a volunteer joining the Bush Action Team (BAT) group meeting up at various bush for life sites. The main goal was to identify the main weed problems and use either chemical or manual variations to contain the weed front.

I even went to a few two days working weekends and dabbled in seed propagation, but then bush for life carers were required and then I took on study.


Two day week-end at Halbury, South Australia (2009).

"We worked at the edge of the cemetery 1.5 days drilling & filling olives and half day on buffel grass opposite the camp." Clare

So what's a typical volunteer day with Trees for Life?

A typical morning for me, as a Bush for Life Carer, consists of surveying the site for any disturbances i.e. flora, fauna, chemical, litter & wood removal. This gives me an idea on the condition of the site & where the weed front is.

After this is determined, small areas are targeted and the Bradley Method is used to prevent soil disturbance and decrease chance of weed invasion.

Sometimes I am by myself, most of the time my site coordinator notifies me when she goes out for spraying or mini Bush Action Days (half BAT days). 

"You don’t have to be an outside person to help with the environment"

Clare

If you volunteer for a full Bush Action Team day, it is usually a 9.30-3.30pm day.

You take your own water, hat & food.

You can meet there, Bush Action Team provides a map when you book or can organise a pick-up or mini bus if required.

A Bush Action Team officer coordinates the volunteers, provide the tools and the information required. It's very well organised: sunscreen, tools, chemicals are provided for. For weekend trips, food, transport and accommodation too!

Propagation workshops to get you started as a volunteer grower are half a day.
 

What do you like about Trees for Life?

As well as the satisfaction of knowing you are making a real difference & helping undo the damage to the environment; volunteers:

  • have access to training in a range of skills including: plant identification, bush care, seed collecting & propagation,
  • receive support,
  • are welcome to attend annual social events and activities,
  • meet interesting people with similar interests - The people that come to the BAT days are a great bunch and their energy and knowledge is just astounding -
  • help other revegetation projects by growing seedlings for land owners.

"The thing I enjoy the most is that feeling that we are actually doing something positive for the environment in the long term"

Karen, volunteer at Trees for Life

What can you do as a volunteer for Trees for Life?

The great thing about Trees for Life is there are many elements to preserving the environment, which then means there are many different jobs:

  • seed collecting /sorting,
  • propagation,
  • tree planting,
  • as Bush Action Team (BAT): weeding, brush cutting and spraying,
  • and the list goes on!

You don’t have to be an outside person to help with the environment, someone has to sort the seeds and organise the week-end trips.

Two day week-end at Halbury, South Australia (2009).

Is there a worst bit of volunteering for Trees for Life?

The worst bits are hard to pin down!

The weeding can be tedious especially if you have blackberry which is slow going.

Getting to the sites in a mini bus is slow going, but it gives you a chance to chat to other people.

The accommodation isn’t flash, it’s usually dormitory style bunk beds, but by the end of the day you are glad to have a bed because you will be exhausted. 

Any final thoughts?

The week-end trips are fantastic, but the best part for me was finding these pockets of remnant vegetation, discovering information about the property, what vegetation and wildlife is present and is probably why I enjoy doing the research into management plans.

You can get a better idea by watching this great video on volunteering with Trees for Life.


Thanks Clare for your insider's account of volunteering for Trees for Life!

And congratulation on all your hard work, I know many little creatures are thankfull for their restored habitat!

If you'd like to volunteer too, background information can be found at 

Trees for Life.