Powered by substantial scientific proof rainforest plants support bacteria that create precipitation, ReForest Now is replanting rainforests outside of the Byron Bay Area at a stunning rate of around one hectare per week, with a team of only 16.
Luckily, the 2019 forest fire tragedies created a dire urge for conservationists to spread the word where a budding journalist like myself could afford an interview with the cofounder of ReForest Now, Maximo Bottaro:
A little introduction of yourself, the role you play in your organization, and what projects you have been working on?
I'm Maximo Bottaro, a second generation Lebanese/Sicilian. I became involved in the environmental sector about 19 years ago and started ReForest Now with my best mate and rainforest colleague Michael Martin.
We established in 2018 and soon had our own nursery, science productions, grant writing, social media, bush regen team and tree planting operations. Within those first two years we've achieved medium sized charity status with the ACNC and now have 16 staff. We've regenerated about 16 hectares and planted another 14, mostly in the last year, between Daintree in far north Queensland and around the big scrub rainforest of Byron Bay.
What is one replanting location you are actively working on in Australia right now and some statistics on it?
We're currently mass planting at several properties around Byron Bay, where we are putting in about 3000 rainforest trees per week (reforesting around a hectare a week).
The area was the largest single tract of rainforest in Australia in the 1800's (and long before), but was logged, cleared, burned and was 99.6% destroyed, one of the most catastrophic attacks by European settlement on the most sophisticated ecosystem types on land.
As such, the entire rainforest remnants here are ALL classed as critically endangered lowland subtropical rainforest. There are about 454 species of plants built for the rainforest.
What goes into replanting trees en masse at a location as far as cooperation from other organisations and involved governments?
We have little government support, bar the occasional regional grant and our nursery is built on a leased Council site.
Mass tree planting is something we've refined, but remember we're aiming for 95% success rates and we're planting massive diversity, so we're not just stabbing a shovel into the ground and throwing a pine tree in.
We're turning up with 4x4's, a giant tank of goo (that contains water crystals with mixed in fertilisers), 4 augers, half a rugby team (literally), a land clearing brushcutter, several trailers of plants, hoses and equip.
With 7 staff in 7 hours we usually clear, drill, goo and plant 1,500 rainforest trees.
We are supported by other organisations with agreements, funding and so on. We plant on their behalf as companies and so on.
RN is independent; we do the work alone. The most interaction with have is with the landholders who don't pay for the trees, but pay to have them looked after.
If you could highlight a few things to change a forest fire arsonist's mind on how forests are not involved in the social issues that motivated them to destruction, what would you say to them?
I'm not sure I understand the question - but, forest arson is as far as I know an indicator of mental illness, which is common in Australia because we abandon people in our quest to survive in the ludicrous housing market, of which my generation participates at the rate of less than 1%.
The motivated that destroyed our forests was productivity of cattle, banana farming and housing. Things have changed a lot in 170 years; the issue now is that some people think that if you want to get rid of bush fires you're best off killing the forest, but that's madness.
The more forest cover you have, the more it rains, the better the water is retained, the cooler the environment, the less it can burn.
Particularly with rainforests there is stirring evidence that it increases rainfall and recycling of water, not only through processes everyone understands but also through bacteria that live in rainforests and fly into the clouds and make it rain.
We made a video on that with 81 strong references:
The YouTube video is enlightening and entertaining. Rain-causing bacteria may not make it into your top ten for conversation starters, but the bacteria creating the required rain to make farming economically sustainable might. The ultimatum without it of having food to eat versus well-paying jobs is quite a toss-up.
Replanting and sustaining rainforests and regular forests is also important for animal rights and prevention of animal cruelty, important topics for a country that boasts about cuddly koala bears and friendly kangaroos to worldwide tourists.
The main factors to land conservationism indicate that contrary to popular belief diverse rainforests are more resilient to global warming and dry seasons than the rough-and-ready regular forests for two main reasons. First, the Pseudomonas syringae bacteria which rise into the atmosphere from rainforest leaves and cause rain, a proven fact. Ski resorts buy bags of Pseudomonas syringae from Snowman TM to make snow at $2,000/bag. The other factor is vapour pressure deficit. As the average temperature rises, so does the maximum saturation point for humidity (although humidity itself does not rise). Behaviour in plant leaves parallel rising VPD levels where pores that absorb CO2 and release oxygen and moisture remain open for longer at higher levels of VPD. This fries the leaves and kills them, except for in the moisture-heavy air underneath rainforest canopies.
Therefore, ReForest Nows strategy of expanding rainforest landcover is a winner. A shocking statistic was revealed in a recent Youtube video by Lucas Cernusak of James Cook University that presented their studies of northern Queensland rainforests. As atmospheric CO2 has incrementally increased, coastal rainforests have fed off it and pushed further inland at a rate of approximately eight meters over four decades. So you can thank the massive clouds of smoke emanating from the chimneys of 'sinister industry' worldwide for growing our rainforests.
Ozone molecules are a renewable resource. As O2 molecules released from forests float up into the atmosphere, UV rays break it down into O which bind to each other to form O3. Industries such as coal could even benefit the planet with their smoke releases by way of more CO2 in the atmosphere for rainforest absorption, as the increased terrestrial rainfall decreases global temperature and the increased rainforest sizes replenish any ozone layer damage from remaining unabsorbed CO2.
Mr. Bottaro quotes a leading scientist in supporting the rationality behind bacteria causing precipitation in his aforementioned YouTube presentation: Water vapour doesnt ordinarily spontaneously condense into drops to form clouds, it needs dirt to form around. All rain needs aerosols to form.- Tom Bell, climate scientist, from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, YouTube video, 1:54. Furthermore, other encompassing studies evince that bacteria is the culprit aerosol for rain droplets to form before falling from clouds.
With the endless list of scapegoat reasons used to not punish forest fire arsonists for their own crimes, ReForest Now is winning the war rather than the battle. They are fighting the dry season provoking both the arson and also the naturally occurring forest fires. Expanding rainforests creates terrestrial rain needed for farming worldwide. The increased terrestrial rain supports regular forests which provide the privacy of rural lifestyles, animal rights, atmospheric health, create rain themselves, and a long list of other benefits. And replanting forests is creating a social network of friendly and inviting people waiting to get you involved somehow.
Journalist George Payne can be reached at his business email of email@example.com