Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith joined community organisation Grow West to plant their one millionth tree yesterday.
With National Tree Day just two weeks away on Sunday 29 July, Mr Smith encouraged the community to visit www.dse.vic.gov.au to find out how they can be involved in selecting sites, planting trees and being a part of the Victorian Coalition Government's Two Million Trees project.
"Grow West's efforts clearly highlight what can be achieved through a partnership approach, which is also the aim of the Coalition Government's Two Million Trees initiative," Mr Smith said.
"The success of Grow West provides a great example of what we hope to achieve through the Two Million Trees project. By working with the community we know we can take practical action for the environment wherever that work will get the best results."
Mr Smith said planting the one millionth Grow West tree as part of the group's seventh annual Community Planting Day was an honour for him and he acknowledged the amazing achievement for everyone involved in the project.
"All the agencies, Landcare groups and volunteers who have taken part in the project over the years should be proud and take great satisfaction from this achievement," Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith thanked all supporters of the Community Planting Day and of the Grow West program, acknowledging how their support and efforts have made Grow West the success it is.
Grow West began in the late 1990s, in the hilly landscapes around Bacchus Marsh in the Rowsley Valley and Pentland Hills area west of Melbourne. The land was at the mercy of rabbits in plague proportions, erosion and saline soils, and an emerging environmental weed – Serrated Tussock.
That's when the concept of Grow West was conceived – a plan to revegetate the land. An alliance of local landholders, Landcare groups, government agencies and Moorabool Shire Council joined the partnership to restore the Brisbane Ranges National Park, Lerderderg State Park and Werribee Gorge State Park.
The Grow West Implementation Committee was formed, a plan to create a large-scale network of biolinks was developed in 2003 – and now nearly 10 years later Grow West's one millionth tree was planted by the Minister for Environment and Climate Change.
Over the past decade, Grow West has initiated revegetation and farm forestry projects on around 1,000 hectares at 175 sites. These included major planting projects associated with the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.