Wonderful list of the benefits of trees as part of the displays at Sydney Park

Wonderful list of the benefits of trees as part of the displays at Sydney Park

People planted 4,500 plants today at Sydney Park

People planted 4,500 plants today at Sydney Park

Today we joined around 1,000 people (staff estimate) of all ages to plant 4,500 plants in an area of around two football fields in Sydney Park.  The plants were indigenous to the Sydney Basin were chosen to create an understorey, slow down stormwater, as well as provide habitat, particularly for smaller birds.  Nearby areas with similar plants gave a good idea what today’s work will look like when the plants have established themselves.

The City of Sydney Council, Planet Ark & their sponsor Toyota organized the event.  There was an entertainment area centered around a stage & a series of tents.  Registration gave participants the choice an ice-cream or a barbequed sausage roll/vegetarian pattie, a free ‘plant the container as well’ plant to take home & entry into a raffle.  I’ve forgotten the prizes, but remember liking them at the time. We were also given an organic cotton ‘National Tree Day’ t-shirt.

First there was a very nice welcome to Gadigal Country by an Aboriginal Elder whose name I did not catch & then other speeches from the Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore, a representative from the sponsors Toyota & a representative from Planet Ark.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore planted ‘tree number 20-million’ since Planet Ark started National Tree Day in 1996.  She thanked the community for all their help in transforming what was once a dump into Sydney Park with a tree canopy that is getting denser every year.

Seen watching from the sidelines much to the delight of the children. It was very realistic.

A realistic plastic kangaroo seen watching from the sidelines, much to the delight of the children.          

There were chickens & face painting for the kids, plus exhibits ranging from types of compost, vertical gardens, green walls & growing in a bag for those who don’t have much room. There was also yoga for families & demonstrations of DIY gardening.

Because there were so many people, planting was done in four shifts to allow everyone a chance to be involved.  Staff gave onsite training on how to plant & then took participants to the area to be planted.

The community planted 26 species of plants, some of which were Acacia, Correa, Grevillea, Kunzea  & Hakeas.   Staff would have mulched & watered the area at the end of the event, which was a massive job.

Planet Ark released their latest research today – ‘Missing Trees: The Inside Story of An Outdoor Nation,’ which revealed a number of quite startling results. Some are as follows, but I will write more about this in a later post –

  • For every hour we spend outside, we spend over 7 hours in front of screens watching television or on the Internet.
  • Approximately 1 in 3 people spend less than 18 minutes per day doing outdoor recreational activities.
  • 1 in 4 children under 16 years spend on average less than 2 hours of the spare time per week playing in natural outdoor areas.
  • …people living in units or flats spend 3.5 hours per week doing outdoor activities, while those living in separate houses with large backyards spend 5.1 hours per week doing outdoor recreational activities.
  • …visiting or entertaining friends or family is a low priority for many Australians, with only 3% of leisure time was devoted to this activity in 2006.”
  • Over a 30-day period – “only 39% of respondents visited a park or reserve.”
  • One in two parents said their children did not play in the gardens or bushland in an urban park.
  • 32% said their children have never been camping. 29% said their children have never been bushwalking.”

Worse is the following –

  • “1 in 4 children have never climbed a tree.
  • 1 in 4 children have never cared for a vegetable garden.” 

With results like the above, events like National Tree Day & Schools Tree Day become extremely important in the lives of young people as this may be the first time they have planted something.  They get to contribute & later see the results of their work. For kids who are essentially nature deficit, this kind of experience can be life-changing.

I find it sad to see how disconnected to nature many children are these days. I spent many hours almost every day in my childhood running around fields & parks with my friends, playing with dirt, branches & rocks & whatever else we could find, building a cubby houses & hours spent sitting high in a tree with a friend gossiping about whatever grabbed our interest that day.  We had school & home & outside time in almost even quantities.

Today’s National Tree Day event was enjoyable & interesting.  Having read the research I think it may have meant a lot more to those people who don‘t often get out into parks, or get their hands dirty.  City of Sydney Council & Planet Ark went to a lot of trouble to ensure that there was something for everyone & that learning was passive & not at all threatening.  It was a very good event.

More planting at Sydney Park

More planting at Sydney Park.

Another area being planted

Another area being planted. The people disappeared into the bush.

Give-away plants in containers meant to go straight into the ground

Give-away plants in containers meant to be planted straight into the ground

One of the displays on various types of gardening.

One of the displays on gardening in small spaces.

A map of today's planting area in Sydney Park.  As you can see it was quite a large area.

A map of today’s planting area in Sydney Park. As you can see it was quite a large area.