The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.

Moving to the beautiful Mornington Peninsula from Melbourne’s busy CBD I looked forward to many lifestyle changes. A quieter and slower pace, the clean fresh sea air, and the surrounding woodlands with established native trees and abundant birdlife. We also moved from a two-bedroom unit with a tiny courtyard to almost an acre of land and spacious large home perfect for our soon to be family. What I hadn’t expected was that my neighbour’s ideas about sharing this environment would be so misaligned from my own.

The Mornington Peninsula is a unique place when it comes to biodiversity, it is home to an incredible range of plants and animals, including species and areas of regional, state, national and international significance. If I can briefly paint the picture for you of this reasonably affluent location. Most properties are large with 4 bedrooms plus, a pool without outdoor entertainment area and tennis court, circular driveways surrounded by great old trees some 40 metres high and more. Kookaburras, ravens, magpies, frogs and an amazing spectrum of varieties of smaller birds live in harmony with the nocturnal wildlife including possums, owls and small bats. A few unwelcome creatures including the introduced fox also roam the streets. 

It saddened me to learn that it was a minority of our community living in the woodlands area keen to preserve and protect our valuable flora and fauna, most importantly the Eucalypt trees. The koalas in our local area are all but gone due to the encroaching suburbia. Having only lived here for 4 years I have noticed the decapitation of beautiful old native trees surrounding our patch to make way for new tennis courts, pools and the like. Cutting down these majestic old trees not only reducing habitat for wildlife but destabilising the land causing enormous drainage and runoff issues on our sloping properties. With root systems destroyed and the removal of truckloads of soil to make way for concrete and maintenance-free entertainment areas, the landscape has changed enormously. Although permits are required to remove trees these laws are often ignored, so it comes as no surprise that the Peninsula has less than 10 percent of its original native vegetation.

With climate crisis warnings regularly being expounded in the media, I am shocked that there isn’t more action favouring tree planting and it’s mind-blowing potential to rectify some of the damage caused by recent generations. Planting billions of trees across the world is one of the biggest and cheapest ways of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere to tackle the climate crisis. How many trees does each individual have to plant in their lifetime you may ask? Well, the numbers vary and I’ve most recently read we need to plant 5 trees each year (per person). If we live to 75 years old that’s 3875 trees to offset your carbon footprint. But this doesn’t have to be trees it can be any plant really. I suggest we start by looking after the trees on our block and make a concerted effort to work together in our communities to reforest our land to beautify and benefit all of our lives.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

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