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Plants for Peace, Bushfire Recovery Action Group

International Volunteers for Peace
Logo for International Volunteers for Peace

A project to help with recovery after the catastrophic fires of the Summer of 2019-20 has been enthusiastically received by residents of NSW. International Volunteers for Peace is collecting discarded plants from nurseries and delivering them to affected communities from Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands to as far south as Cobargo. The project is designed not only to assist with environmental recovery but also help with mental health of traumatised residents.

With the help of local councils we are reaching out to often isolated rural communities that were in the path of the fires, where recovery from personal, social and economic losses can be slowest. Since August 2020, 10 deliveries to seven communities have been coordinated with local community leaders.

Each delivery consists of approximately 300 plants, mostly natives but also some exotics with a few flower and vegie seedlings if we are lucky. The bulk of the plants come from a big commercial nursery in Sydney but local nursery Gehls have also contributed as well as the local Bunnings. We can’t know in advance if the plants will be taken, planted, loved, or flourish but we hope that by offering them we can create a feeling of care and abundance as well as making an effort towards recovery of the landscape.

The small team of IVP volunteers have been very moved by the gratitude of the recipients and hearing many heartbreaking stories. In each community we discover that there are many people still struggling, living in caravans and high priced rentals after fires and trying to recover their lives. Builders are all tied up, getting debris removed is often slow and insurance and other assistance often delayed. The trauma is far from over. These insights keep us motivated to continue.

Requests for plants are escalating as the project becomes better known. We are planning deliveries for the next 12 months at least, with one or two deliveries a month. We are grateful to Coordinare for a grant to pay petrol costs.

We are looking for local volunteers to help with this rewarding project. Help is needed once a week with loading and unloading plants in Goulburn. For the right volunteers there is also the possibility to travel to the events and assist at the delivery end. We would also appreciate any offers of truck or ute to pick up plants from Sydney as this would increase the number of plants we can deliver at any one time.