ENVIRONMENTAL HELPERS: Friends of the Forest committee members Christopher Henderson, Carolita Fuentes, Jan Kesby, Garry Lawler.
ENVIRONMENTAL HELPERS: Friends of the Forest committee members Christopher Henderson, Carolita Fuentes, Jan Kesby, Garry Lawler.

Friends of the forest get their hands dirty once again

FRIENDS of the Forest President Carolita Fuentes wants to restore the Somerset Greenhide Reserve to precolonial times.

Before logging and introduced species took place in the area, Ms Fuentes said the Somerset woodlands were an idyllic spot for picnics, and if all goes to plan the location would be restored.

The environmental advocate is in the process of organising a working bee to regenerate the area by removing weeds and invasive species, which reduce the quality of the soil.

"The area is a viable habitat to native species and that's what makes it precious,” Ms Fuentes said.

"It's really important for us to maintain it and keep it in the most original condition.”

About 15 locals had already expressed interest in the cause and Ms Fuentes expected numbers to increase once details were finalised.

"There's a lot of people willing to get their hands and the feet in the dirt to support the environment,” she said.

The project will be a first for the non-for-profit organisation in the Somerset region, but the group have a successful track record for environmental issues.

In 2017, Friends of the Forest successfully changed historic plans for the expansion of Steve Irwin Way in the Sunshine Coast.

Ms Fuentes said by successfully petitioning the government, and working with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, the group were able to save more than 90 hectares of land.

"In a nutshell TMR had a very old plan and design for was going to cut through 100 hectares,” Ms Fuentes said.

"That was a five-year long campaign that had a really successful outcome with less of an impact of the forest occurring.

"We were in a David and Goliath situation, but it was more of an ant and goliath.”

While the environment and needs of the Somerset forests were different, Ms Fuentes said she hoped to have a positive impact on the region.

"I want to personally do as much as I can to grow awareness,” she said.

Ms Fuentes said the working bee was an easy way for people to help the environment.

"A lot of people don't know what they can do, but there's always something we can do,” Ms Fuentes said.

"Friends of the Forest's ethos is everyday people regardless of age, sex, education level, or skill set, can all make changes for the better.”

Friends of the Forest plan to work alongside indigenous elders and the Somerset Regional Council to achieve the best result for the environment.

Mayor Graeme Lehmann thanked the group for their enthusiasm and drive to enhance the area.


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