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Aussie athletes getting back to nature for national tree day

31 July 2020

Australian athletes will this Sunday 2 August help celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Tree Day, Australia’s largest community tree-planting and nature care event.

In 2020 Australia’s unique landscape was hit hard as bushfires impacted so many communities over summer. Athletes will join the thousands of Australians who have volunteered their time to plant seedlings and restore unique Australian landscapes as part of National Tree Day, which has contributed to planting over 25 million trees since 1996.

Despite National Tree Day not being marked by public events for the first time in 25 years, Australian athletes have thrown their support behind Planet Ark’s call to find creative ways to get involved and support our land and people’s recovery from environmental and psychological trauma.

Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Director Matti Clements said that the theme of regeneration is particularly important for Australian communities after the devastating impact of the 2019/2020 summer bushfires and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

“AIS athletes want to show their support for their communities as they work through these testing months,” said Clements.

“Australian people and our environment have suffered immensely since last summer. Giving back to our local communities is important to our athletes who have the great fortune of enjoying Australia’s unique landscape through the sports they play.

“We know sport is a great catalyst for bringing communities together to support each other and we are pleased to see so many of our athletes and sports supporting National Tree Day.

“We know that a meaningful connection with nature brings benefits not only to the environment and the quality of our life in general, but also for our own health and wellbeing.”

Australian Jackaroo Barrie Lester is among the athletes who were personally impacted by the recent bushfire season and jumped at the opportunity to engage with the community and start a conversation around the importance of environmental care.

“The devastating bushfires that impacted South-East NSW and Eastern Victoria over the recent summer were very frightening. Unfortunately, I had family members who were forced to evacuate and friends who lost homes," Lester said.

“To see our native flora, trees and wildlife suffer so much over the years, through both drought and fire, is devastating. It is important we re-build and protect our future."

Planet Ark Deputy CEO Rebecca Gilling showed her appreciation for AIS athletes commitment to celebrating trees and helping communities around Australia connect with nature on National Tree Day.

“After the unparalleled start to the year we have had here in Australia, regeneration of our land and our well-being is more critical now than ever,” said Gilling.

“We thank elite Australian athletes for supporting our efforts towards regeneration and making a pledge to connect with nature, and hope Australians will join them to #HugaTreeforNTD.”

The AIS invites everyone to show their support during National Tree Day to get involved by joining the #HugATreeForNTD campaign online and share their commitment to connect with nature and support regeneration.

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