Every year our Community Partnership Program helps support thousands of local groups that play a vital role in our communities and our regions.
One of the groups that our Members choose to support is the Armidale Tree Group, and we caught up with the Group’s Alicia Cooper to find out all about the work they do.
Helping New England Bloom
The trees are a fundamental part of the New England landscape, with the changing seasons marking a seismic change in appearance – the burnt orange creating a picturesque autumnal setting, the bright, vivid greens heralding spring’s change to summer.
And for that, we’re thankful – in part, at least – to the Armidale Tree Group.
Founded back in 1983, Armidale Tree Group is driven by a mission to ‘re-leaf New England’ – protecting and conserving the New England environment by raising and planting native trees and shrubs.
Initially, a dedicated group of volunteers decided to address the loss of millions of native trees in our area due to dieback,” explains Armidale Tree Group’s Alicia Cooper. These early volunteers had a goal of growing and planting 10,000 native trees to help restore our landscape, and pioneered many of the native revegetation methods used on the New England Tablelands.
"Forty years on, the group has grown into an organisation with dedicated staff and passionate volunteers, propagating over 80,000 native plants annually.”
The Nursery of the New England
Today, Armidale Tree Group operates from its nursery in the city’s Mann Street. Open six days per week, the nursery offers a selection of Australian garden plants, herbs and vegetables, garden products and trees and shrubs to the community, and also conducts work in the environmental management, revegetation, weed management, and consultancy and reporting spheres.
“While we provide native plants for both the home garden and large, rural plantings, we also offer native tree planting services and can provide environmental and koala assessment reports for developments,” explains Alicia..
There’s very much a community focus at Armidale Tree Group, with volunteers helping in the nursery, and both plants and staff time being donated to community plantings within and outside of Armidale.
Some projects are worked on in collaboration with Landcare Australia, local schools, private landowners and Armidale Urban Rivercare. “Our most ambitious current project being the creation of habitat plantings along the Saumarez Creek, to create a biodiverse linkage between the eastern and western sides of the New England tableland,” says Alicia.
Making memories – and a lasting impact
Over the years, there have been many highlights for the team at Armidale Tree Group, and Alicia says her greatest has been the opportunity to work with the people within the Group.
“The opportunity to work with and learn from some amazing and passionate people has been a great highlight of my time here,” she says.
“It was also wonderful to be successful with some important grant applications over the years, which provided both much-needed infrastructure and equipment, and assisted us with the revegetation and restoration of some large riparian areas.”
Looking ahead, the Group is currently involved in expanding its infrastructure so it can increase the number of native plants it can propagate each year.
“We are also hoping to expand our services so that we can help with the creation and management of biodiversity conservation sites,” says Alicia.
A special project, meanwhile, Every Tree Counts, aims to raise funds and build partnerships to address landscape-scale environmental issues in New England.
Vital Support Makes a Huge Difference
Armidale Tree Group is thankful for the support received through the Regional Australia Bank Community Partnership Program, and Alicia says: “We are always very grateful for the assistance we receive from the supporters who have nominated us as their preferred choice for the Community Partnership Program.
“We are able to funnel these funds into purchasing or improving the tools and services we provide to our valuable volunteers in our nursery.”
Keen to Make a Difference?
If you’d like to volunteer with the Armidale Tree Group, they’re always keen for help at their nursery on Mann Street! Volunteer or not, however, next time you’re in the neighbourhood, drop into the nursery – you never know what native plant you might find to take home…