20th of March 2018BioPak gives back

Rainforest Rescue: about restoring our rainforests and protecting our reefs

As a responsible business, we have an obligation to preserve and protect the environment and to give back and support the communities in which we operate. We donate our time, energy and 1% of all profits to environmental restoration initiatives with Rainforest Rescue, a not-for-profit organisation that has been protecting and restoring rainforests in Australia and internationally since 1998. Our partnership has flourished since 2012 – together with our customers we have contributed to the protection of 4 hectares of rainforest and the planting of 10,500 trees.

We do our best to spread the word about protecting this wonderfully unique and ancient place. Our latest #Rainforest2Reef campaign promoted various artwork from artists who have an affinity with the rainforest – from indigenous elders to aerial photographers and painters.

Here is what Kristin Canning from Rainforest Rescue told us about her work, the campaign, its results, what it means for the rainforest and reef and why David Attenborough has been invited to plant a tree in his most favourite place in the world.

Kristin, you have been with Rainforest Rescue for over 5 years, what has sparked your passion for rainforest conservation and why the Daintree?

Rainforest Rescue was established in 1998 to porotect rainforests forever. The main aspects that drew me to Rainforest Rescue were twofold: the work they were doing was smart, made sense and forever in its impact, buying threatened properties to save them and then reforesting (by planting trees) the damaged rainforest to see the healthy rainforest return. The main urgent focus area, the Daintree lowlands, was and is still, completely unprotected. While the upland is protected the lowland is not – yet it hosts the same amazing biodiversity significance and conservation values as the upland.

So, it made sense to work for an organisation that pulls its socks up and gets the job done. There are 180 unprotected lowland Daintree properties and we have just protected, with BioPak’s huge help, the 31st property.

It is really important for this world to protect our rainforests because they are indeed the ‘lungs of our planet’ and have flow on effects to many global ecosystems. Not only world wide, but the protection of the Daintree is increasingly important as the properties we buy back and restore link through to the mouths of many rivers that feed into the Great Barrier Reef. Hence the #rainforest2reef campaign. This makes it even more important to ensure land is saved, not polluted and appropriate seedlings and trees are planted that will reduce run off to the Reef and ensure cleaner water, affecting the health of marine life directly.

I love the Daintree because it is an internationally important, ancient and unique area that needs protection. Our Ranger Joe simply calls the Daintree “The Birthplace of Australia” in terms of all of the flora and fauna that were born from this area millions of years ago, before many made their way south. It is crazy to think that the lowland is completely unprotected. “Protecting the UnProtected” has become a bit of my catch cry and I find it really resonates with individuals and business. The impact we can make to protect these threatened properties is massive. For example, efforts to conserve threatened and endangered plant and animal species is integral to Rainforest Rescue’s work. Through the saving of land and reforesting damaged rainforest, the once ‘Endangered’ Keystone’ species the Southern Cassowary has moved a step closer to safety on the IUCN Species list to ‘Vulnerable’. Its populations are increasing and this is due to the creation of many wildlife corridors that are being created through protecting key strategic pieces of the lowland Daintree by Rainforest Rescue and BioPak. Cassowary sightings are becoming more and more common versus five years ago and this is incredibly warming.

Even David Attenborough has recently nominated the Daintree as his most favourite place on Earth which has led us to invite him over for Planting Day. Fingers crossed he accepts the invite!

The Daintree rainforest lies in the heart of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Rivers and streams running through the rainforest flow into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The natural vegetation cover across the Daintree makes this one of very few places in the Wet Tropics where the rivers and creeks still run clear in the wet. #rainforest2reef has been inspired, not only by the amazing and rich biodiversity and natural beauty, but also the proximity and connectivity of these two internationally important areas. Why is it important to talk about both eco systems and their interconnectivity?

The bleaching of coral from global warming has received international media coverage. In addition, sediments and chemicals from farming and mining are flowing off the land and onto the reef, impacting on natural systems. We are only just starting to learn about the complex interconnectivity of these systems. What’s clear is that intact rainforest landscapes promote healthy reefs that in turn protect marine biodiversity. Intact ecosystems also influence weather patterns, including rainfall which is vital for a healthy rainforest. We believe very much that ecosystems are not just ‘lines on a map’. They all blend into each other and as result must be considered as a whole.

Working in partnership with BioPak and the Great Barrier Reef Legacy was important to help conserve these amazing places for future generations and gave us a platform in which to scream this important message from the rooftops… or the coffee cups!

The recent #rainforest2reef campaign on instagram has engaged a community of enthusiastic coffee lovers with a passion for the environment. Everyone who shared a snap of their #rainforest2reef art series biocup contributed $1 per post to the restoration of the Daintree and the reef. But the success of this campaign has not only been defined by the money raised, but it has also raised awareness for the importance of forest and reef health to our world internationally and really brought together a community of like-minded kin. What is the one thing that stands out for yourself as part of the success of this campaign?

When BioPak approached us for this campaign last year we could have not been more excited to be part of such a great initiative. It is so important to educate the public around climate change and the impact of plastic pollution, coal mining, on the rainforest and reef here in Australia and all around the world. All in a way that is quick, easy to absorb and intrinsically Australian – whilst getting a coffee!

Together we have not only raised enough funding to save 130 square metres of threatened rainforest but what really amazed me was the support of all the artists, indigenous elders and end consumers who all shared their stories of the reef and Daintree all over social media. I can see that this has built long lasting relationships for even bigger and better things to come.

The engagement of consumers has been astonishing. We are so thankful for everyone who took part and helped raise funds. From popular rappers and musicians in the USA to Aussie TV personalities to our local corner cafes. Influencers from all over the world rejoiced to raise awareness and donate to our wonderful habitat.

Over 18 artists provided artwork for the cups used for the #Rainforest2Reef campaign, how did you source these artists and what inspired them to be part of this initiative?

This was one of the most enjoyable parts of the whole campaign. Artists from across the world garnered together to use their photographs, artworks, multimedia, to showcase their desire to protect the #rainforest2reef. The response was just wonderful and Rainforest Rescue continues to have strong alliances with these artists as a result. It truly was as simple as contacting the Artists, explaining the awareness campaign we were embarking on using BioPak’s fully recyclable and commercially compostable BioCups, and they were in! Many of the indigenous Artists drew directly on their concerns for protection of the Daintree which is their backyard and saw this as a perfect way to portray their concerns.

Over the past 6 years, BioPak and Rainforest Rescue have worked together on mutual initiatives to protect the Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef. What has been achieved since and what are the priorities for the next year(s) in terms of restoration and protection of Australia’s ecosystems in the Far North?

Since our inception in 1999, RR has rescued 31 rainforest properties in the Daintree and planted over 100,000 native trees in the area in restoration and reforestation projects. BioPak has helped save 4 football fields worth of this beautiful and highly threatened rainforest, planted 10,500 trees and counting … We are so appreciative of what we have been able to achieve with the funds donated, for example creating these safe wildlife corridors for the [now] Vulnerable versus Endangered Cassowary – and the Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo which is extremely rare and precious, was just spotted last month! The return of the flora and fauna to the areas which BioPak have directly funded to save forever, and plant trees on to restore, is home to endless amounts of rare, precious, vulnerable and endangered flora and fauna who are safer as a result.

Part of the 10,500 seedlings which BioPak has funded has not only planted the seedlings but help us propagate and grow thousands at our Native Nursery, and care for them over the trees’ lifespan once in the ground. Nightwings in Mossman, QLD the lowland Daintree was once a stripped sugar cane field which posed immediate threat of polluted run off directly to the reef. 65,000 trees planted later thanks to BioPak, we now need to plant this year at least another 20,000 and then in 2019 approximately another 15,000 to see a whopping 100,000 trees in the ground here. The Nightwings Project takes a stripped sugar cane field which was barren and will see it connect a full rainforest from the Daintree Lowland, the GBReef up to the Upland Rainforest and through to Stewart’s Creek on the other side of the Dagmar Range. As our largest Business Partner, BioPak has truly allowed Rainforest Rescue to step up and make massive conservation impact at the fastest rate that I have ever seen before. It is a stunning example of how business really can change the world.

As a passionate eco enthusiast and active environmentalist, is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

To use your power in your purchase and rejoice when you do see businesses doing the right thing. It’s important for us at Rainforest Rescue to be able to quantify the impact that is made and by stocking, purchasing, using BioPak products you are playing a huge part in the four football fields of threatened rainforest saved and the over 10,500 seedlings planted on damaged rainforest. So thank YOU!