Forest seeks more friends

Friends of the Forest volunteers undertake regeneration projects at Greenhide Reserve, north Somerset, and would welcome more locals to join them. Picture: FOTF

For five years, a dedicated team of volunteers have steadily been rejuvenating a small swath of rainforest near Linville.

What they have witnesses is a steady return of biodiversity to the critically endangered forest.

Friends of the Forest president Carolita Fuentes said although Greenhide Reserve’s ecology has attracted environmentalists and scientists, they would like more Somerset residents to come and take part in the project.

“It’s garnered interest from people who are in the know, ecologists, or botanists, or plant researchers,” she said.

“But what we’d love is for more local people to contact us and see if they wanted to join in.”

The volunteers take on regeneration projects, particularly ridding the forest of invasive weeds, and in return witness the return of native flora and fauna.

After they removed a large patch of lantana, which boomed when the canopy was removed to make way for power lines, Australian native plants like cunjevoi (alocasia brisbanensis) were allowed to flourish.

“What’s happened subsequently, the cunjevoi began to grow out from where the lantana had been and now it’s a whole grove of cunjevoi and it’s spectacular when you walk in there,” Ms Fuentes said.

Rare butterflies and spiders now use the grove as habitat.

Working bees are held every six to eight weeks, volunteers are covered by Friends of the Forest’s insurance, and the work can even contribute to Work for the Dole.

“It’s actually a really healthy way to get out into nature and create new social networks, new friendships, get fresh air and exercise in a fun way and always learning a lot about the native plants and native animals that use the area,” Ms Fuentes said.