Wongaling Wetland Cassowary Corridor restoration

October 11th, 2014
BEFORE restoration began the area was dominated by invasive weeds smothering the trees

BEFORE restoration began the area was dominated by invasive weeds smothering the trees

Locals couldn’t remember the last time Wongaling Creek flowed, but in collaboration with Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, we’ve completed the Wongaling Wetland Cassowary Corridor restoration project and the creek is now flowing again!

DURING: land cleared

The Djiru Native Title Land at Mission Beach was choked with water weeds, guinea grass, lantana and Singapore daisy, and surrounded by urbanisation and development. The land was prioritised for restoration after it was identified as key cassowary habitat by the Traditional Owners.

AFTER: Restoring Wongaling Creek

AFTER: Restoring Wongaling Creek

The project also employed and trained Djiru Traditional Owners, many of whom had been displaced by Mission Beach’s rapid development and soaring property prices. “The Girringun nursery and restoration team and the Djiru restoration team thank you for your support to help heal our country,” said Nina Dawson, Restoration Project Coordinator.

AFTER the restored site planted with Girringun nursery trees

AFTER the restored site planted with Girringun nursery trees

What we’ve achieved

  • Removal of invasive Singapore daisy that had clogged the creek and prevented native species growth
  • 1,500 rainforest trees planted
  • Seed collection of cassowary food trees to be grown in the Girringun nursery
  • Training of Djiru people – plant identification, seed collection and restoration and propagation techniques
  • Wongaling Creek flowing again

The Djiru and Girringun restoration teams


Orangutan habitat for survival

October 5th, 2014

Rainforest Rescue has been working with project partner, Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) to restore illegally cleared national park in Northern Sumatra since 2009. Our recent site visit to the project in Sei Betung Besitang, Gunung Leuser National Park provided encouragement as it demonstrated that it is possible to re-create a healthy ecosystem in an old growth rainforest previously decimated by illegal palm oil plantations.

2009 restoration site

2009 restoration site

OIC’s revegetation work is similar to our Daintree operations. All trees are grown at their nursery from seeds sourced from the ‘mother’ trees (those that survived logging).

nursery at Tankaghan

Seedlings grown at the nursery ready to be planted into the Sumatran rainforest

A combination of slow and fast growing trees are planted to ensure rapid canopy enclosure, and all trees are tagged and growth rates measured every six months. In a plot regenerated three years ago at Sei Betung Besitang, key species are already returning.

Elephant scats and orangutan nests demonstrate the rainforest now grows sufficient food for their survival.

These animals also play a significant role in rainforest regeneration – orangutan disperse seeds over a larger range as they travel between trees and elephant scats provide fertiliser.


orangutan nesting in oil palm plantation

Orangutans are the world’s largest aboreal animals and spend most of the day foraging for food in the rainforest canopy. Habitat destruction means they have to adapt to living on the ground. Here the mother is nesting in an illegal oil palm plantation.

The remnant of a massive old growth rainforest tree surrounded by illegally planted oil palms

The restoration team at Sei Betung

Buy back the Daintree

October 4th, 2014

Two more properties protected forever

Rainforest Rescue’s vision is to buy back and protect all unprotected high conservation value rainforest in the Daintree lowlands by 2030.

Thanks to the generosity of our donors we are now two blocks closer to this goal. We recently exchanged contracts on Lots 13 Forest Creek Road and 38 Cape Tribulation Road, Daintree, and expect to finalise purchases in October and January respectively.

Both properties were at high risk of development; are Cassowary corridors; provide strong connectivity between other Rainforest Rescue Refuges and the Daintree National Park; and rate very highly for their conservation value. The vulnerably listed Bennett’s tree kangaroo has also been sighted on lot 13 Forest Creek Road.

It is with relief and gratitude that we thank our donors. Your support is helping connect rainforest corridors and saving our precious rainforest forever, thank you.

Unprotected Daintree rainforest is cleared for argriculture

Your support will protect the Daintree lowlands from further clearing like this

You can still help us
buy back more of the Daintree

Donate here

or call 1300 763 611

or send a cheque to Reply paid 40 Mullumbimby NSW 2482

The Rainforest and all the creatures that call it home thank you!

:-) :-)

Restoration completed on two more Daintree rainforest properties

October 2nd, 2014

1,764 trees were planted on 1.4 acres over two years. Weed clearing also enabled the natural regeneration of an additional 30 square metres

Restoring rainforest to its former glory takes time and lots of back-bending but the end result is incredibly rewarding said our Daintree Land Manager, Joe Reichl.


Flora and fauna surveys of the two properties verified their high conservation value. The presence of rare plants with limited distribution (like the Rhaphidophora hayi vine), significant sized buttress trees, and limited clearing (at the time we estimated 80% undisturbed rainforest), further increased our desire to protect this rainforest forever.

Once we had secured their purchase, restoring the cleared forest provided some interesting challenges for Joe and his team – work that they have just now completed after two and a half years of toiling in the heat and the wet.
Joe said “it was like someone took a cookie-cutter and removed a chunk of pristine rainforest from each property”. These ‘chunks’ were destined to be house blocks (neither were built). Instead a massive stockpile of debris and sheds accumulated and were eventually overgrown with knee-high weeds.

1000s of discarded tyres

1000s of discarded tyres. These tyres from Lot 82 (originally brought in to build a house) have been recycled into children’s soft fall playground surfaces.

five oil palm canopys covered one hectare

BEFORE: Just five oil palm canopys covered and area of nearly one hectare preventing everything from growing beneath them

oil palm on lot 83

BEFORE: Some of the 40 tonnes of debris. This area is now covered in rainforest seedlings

What we have achieved:

  • 40 tonnes of debris removed – including sheds, cement slabs, tyres, caravans, water tanks and water tower
  • 4,975m2 of land weeded
  • 1.4 hectares of land planted with rainforest seedlings grown in our nursery
  • 1,764 rainforest trees planted
  • Equivalent of 31 days spent removing debris, weeds and oil palms

AFTER: this photo was taken just minutes before a group of volunteers started filling these holes with seedlings. This whole area had previously been taken up by five oil palms that covered a radius of close to one hectare!


Our purchases ensured this rainforest was not cleared and the properties are now protected forever. There is no rest for Joe and his team of volunteers and part-time staff – they are now weeding and watering trees planted at Lot 46 and removing younger oil palms.

Left-right: Joe Reichl with MD Grant Binns and Golly. Golly and Joe are responsible for ensuring these seedlings grow into a rainforest through regular weeding and watering (when necessary)

Over 40 tonnes of debris were removed from the properties. This photo was taken at the same place as where the trees were planted

Rainforest Rescue helps the Daintree National Park grow

August 30th, 2014

Yesterday Rainforest Rescue gifted a property to the Qld Department of Environment and Heritage Protection that bordered on the Daintree National Park, effectively growing the size of the Park.

The decision on part of our Board means a cost saving whilst ensuring permanent protection of the rainforest through its inclusion within the boundaries of the Daintree National Park.

Lot 76 Rosewood Road Cow Bay, directly opposite Rainforest Rescue’s Baralba Corridor Nature Refuge, was in near pristine condition, with only a small number of trees removed to create a driveway, so we left it to regenerate naturally.

On all our properties we pay annual council rates and also a once off fee of approximately $3,000 to place nature refuge status on the property.

“We are not about building a portfolio of property assets – we are about protecting as much rainforest as we possibly can,” said Grant Binns, Managing Director Rainforest Rescue “By gifting the property these saving can now be directed into protecting and restoring additional rainforest in the area”.

The gift and agreement were ratified by a Qld ministerial submission and ensures that if for any reason the property is no longer protected under National Parks status, the government is obliged to return the land to Rainforest Rescue.

“This is an innovative way to protect rainforest forever with no ongoing costs to Rainforest Rescue,” explained Grant.

The Southern Cassowary….a model father

August 27th, 2014

The male cassowary is a role model for all dads, human or otherwise. As a hard-working parent they hatch their chicks and raise them, teaching them all they need to know until they are independent enough to make their own way in the world.

Remind you of anyone?

So this Father’s day what better way to say “I love you Dad/Uncle/Grandpa/neighbour” than with a LivingGift that will protect and restore rainforest for the endangered southern cassowary.

Order your LivingGift now to ensure your Dad gets his gift in time for Father’s Day

With a Rainforest Rescue LivingGift you’ll not only be showing your Dad that you care, but that you care enough about the future to help make a difference.

5 Reasons to Avoid Palm Oil

July 18th, 2014

Guest blogger Kate Good

This article first appeared on One Green Planet

Palm oil is the world’s most popular vegetable oil. Used in most consumer goods, this particular oil may be cheap but it comes at a tremendous cost to the environment. Palm oil has been linked to many environmental, animal, and human rights violations yet companies continue to use this particular oil in everything from laundry detergent to snacks and lipstick.

It is clear that the world is aware of the many atrocities associated with Big Palm, so what is being done to stop it?

Some corporations have signed on with the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and promised to source all their palm oil from certified, sustainable sources over the next few years. While these initiatives are amazing and could affect real change in the abusive practices of the palm oil industry, they haven’t been all that successful just yet.

Because palm oil supply chains can be hard to track, violations made to the RSPO’s standards are a huge problem for some companies that claim to sustainably source their oil. According to the Rainforest Action Network, Cargill’s lack of oversight has led to the violation of numerous RSPO measures, nullifying their efforts to reform their palm oil policy.

Until there is evidence that real change has been made to ensure all palm oil is sustainably sourced it is a good idea to avoid buy products that contain palm oil all together. Here are some reasons why:

1.  Palm oil heavily contributes to deforestation

The palm oil industry plays a large role in human induced climate change as palm oil plantations have cleared some of the world’s most precious, carbon capturing forests. For instance, in 2009, nearly 30 percent of Indonesia’s reported carbon emissions were the result of deforestation.

What’s more, according to the Say No To Palm Oil campaign, “Every hour an area the size of 300 football fields is cleared in Indonesia and Malaysia to make way for palm plantations.” Unbelievable!

Levelling forests not only impacts the climate, but poses a very immediate threat to endangered species that live in these tropical areas.

2. Palm oil is driving orangutans to extinction

Scientists predict that the fragile orangutan population could become extinct within our lifetime if we continue to destroy their home and natural habitats for palm oil plantations.

In the past 10 years, the orangutan population of Sumatra and Borneo has decreased by over 20,000. This sharp decline coincides with a growing demand for palm oil in the U.S. Between 1990 and 2010, the average quantity of palm oil consumed in the United States increased by 2000 million pounds. Yikes. Over 98 percent of all palm oil used in the United States comes from Southeast Asia.

The Orangutan Conservancy estimates that orangutans have lost over 80 percent of their natural habitat in the last 20 years.

3. Palm oil is driving other endangered species toward extinction, too

Orangutans are not the only animals that are at risk of extinction. Only about 400 tigers are left on the island of Sumatra. In 1978, there were estimated to be 1,000. Sumatran rhinos are also disappearing with population numbers equally less than 200.

The expansion of palm oil has introduced humans into parts of the rainforest that had been untouched for hundreds of years. As more roads are built and protective trees are levelled, elephants are being targeted at higher percentages for ivory, another indirect consequence of the palm oil industry. It is estimated that only 2,500 elephants remain in Sumatra.

4. Palm oil as an industry is riddled with human rights abuses

Among the 3.7 million people work in the palm oil industry, and thousands are child laborers forced to work. According to a report in Business Week, many workers are pulled into the industry through debt bondage or taken by human traffickers. Congruently, traffickers who are caught face few sanctions from government or business authorities. Click here to read more on the incredible conditions many palm workers face.

5. Palm oil’s just not good for you — plain and simple

Palm oil is high in saturated fats. After trans fats were banned from snack foods, many companies began to use palm oil as a “healthy” alternative. Turns out, palm oil is bad for you too. A study that followed people who ate a diet rich in palm oil for five weeks saw an increase in their LDL cholesterol levels – very similar to what occurs when people consume trans fats.

The best thing you can do to ensure that you are not contributing to these injustices with the products you buy is by starting your own boycott of palm oil. To help you decode the many names palm oil is listed under, check out this article from the Rainforest Action Network.

Read more about Rainforest Rescue’s Orangutan Habitat for Survival project here.

Image source: Nomo / Wikipedia Commons

Monitoring: measuring success of large scale rainforest restoration

July 10th, 2014
By Madeleine Faught, Chair Rainforest Rescue

Cassowary Conservation Reserve

Canopy cover, number of species, plant density, and rate of growth are key indicators of forest development.

At Lot 46 Cape Tribulation Road in the Daintree area of far north Queensland, Rainforest Rescue is monitoring all those factors and more to measure the success of a large scale rainforest restoration project.

The property was partly cleared in the 1960s, first for cattle grazing and later for Oil Palm cultivation. More recently it had become a dumping ground for rubbish, cars, caravans, boats, and a haven for impenetrable weeds. In 2012 we secured funding which set the property on its long journey back to rainforest.

Monitoring is based on periodic measurement of growth rates of both planted and ‘volunteer or wildling’ trees in areas left for natural regeneration. The property was divided into working zones and seven 50 x 20m monitoring plots were laid out in the different zones.

In addition, twelve permanent photographic points were set up within the working zones and plots to allow consistent recording of rainforest re-development and growth over time.

Results to date have been extremely positive, showing remarkable growth rates and rapid canopy closure – the key to rainforest structure. The monitoring will continue until we reach a point where this restored rainforest rules! By the looks of things, we don’t have long to wait for this to happen…

We are incredibly close to protecting Lot 38 Cape Tribulation Road forever!

June 29th, 2014

It has been a week of great news and I wish to thank Rainforest Rescue’s donors – together you are committed to protecting rainforest forever, thank you!

Two weeks ago we went out on a limb and signed the sales contract on one of the blocks of rainforest we identified as having high conservation value – we were worried it was going to be purchased by developers.

By Thursday we had received enough donations to buy Lot 13 Forest Creek Road … but more than that, the purchase of our second priority piece of land – Lot 38 Cape Tribulation Road is now almost a reality too.

Buoyed by your support I was able to negotiate a discounted price with the vendor. We are now committed to this purchase as well!

We are only $18,200 short of the goal needed to secure Lot 38 and the biodiversity it protects.

Your gift of $45 will buy a pristine 5m2 piece of rainforest, or $135 will buy 15m2.

Please make a donation today and help us protect Lot 38 forever from the bulldozer.

You will reduce your tax bill while making a massive contribution to the preservation and protection of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest and all the amazing species it shelters.

Yours in caring for our rainforest

Grant Binns
Managing Director, Rainforest Rescue

Please act today – your donation is a very real gift – it will save our Daintree rainforest from destruction.

Plant a Rainforest

June 25th, 2014

I’ve just returned from ten days in the Daintree lowlands to record the growth rates on a large (27 hectare) block that we have now fully restored to rainforest (after clearing weeds, Oil Palms, rubbish and then planting 30,000 trees). After completing this monitoring, I participated in a two day Rainforest Rescue tree planting event in the Daintree. One of these events took place on 82 Rosewood Road. I’m not sure if you remember what this property was like when we first purchased it, but suffice it to say that the 1500+ dead tyres have now been removed and have gone to the recyclers to be turned into ‘soft fall’ surfaces for children’s playgrounds. A win all round!

There’s something incredibly satisfying about planting healthy rainforest tree seedlings (grown to perfection by our wonderful Daintree nursery) in the ground, knowing that the ‘land has a memory’ and that the seedlings will thrive. All around the planted area, the existing rainforest trees almost shiver in anticipation of the moment when a degraded landscape becomes one of vigour and biodiversity.

We had just over 60 volunteers turn up for the tree planting events, some of whom had come from as far away as Sydney. We managed to plant 2000 trees, and there were smiles all round, even though it’s been raining up there for months and deep slippery mud was the common denominator! The locals tell me they’ve had 4.5 m of rain since January.

Almost difficult to perceive of so much wet, but the trees certainly are loving it!

It’s always a treat to spend time in the Daintree rainforest; to see the results of what support allows us to achieve and preserve…

Madeleine Faught

Chair, Rainforest Rescue