Officeworks’ Restoring Australia initiative with Greening Australia is going from strength to strength, with the tree planting sites involved showing many positive changes. In 2017, Officeworks committed to planting two million trees by 2025. It’s just one of the targets set by the company through its Restoring Australia initiative, created to help protect our natural environment and tackle climate change. 

“We’ve been facilitating the planting of two trees for every one used, based on how much paper Officeworks customers buy,” says Officeworks Managing Director Sarah Hunter. “Basically, every time you purchase paper products from one of our stores, we ensure trees are planted in places where Australian landscapes need regenerating. It means our customers can be confident that when they shop with us, they’re giving back.”  

To date, 1.45 million trees have been planted in projects that aim to reverse the impacts of tree and habitat loss over time. “It’s great to see our Restoring Australia initiative is having a positive impact across the country,” says Officeworks chief financial officer Brendan Hargreaves. “We’re seeing an impact beyond just improving vegetation; our plantings have created habitat, animals have returned to the areas, and we’ve helped restore environments for a range of at-threat species.”

Not only is the tree planting venture helping to improve the biodiversity of Australia by creating habitat and wildlife corridors, it’s also helping to support landholders and farmers in their interests and way of life.

Encouraging Back Wildlife

Cattle farmer Alice Armistead is a landholder in the Victorian Volcanic Plains. Her property is one of the 235 Restoring Australia sites and has seen firsthand the benefits that tree planting provides. Since 2019, 12,772 trees have been planted on her property across 21 hectares of varying landscapes and, as a result, Alice has seen a vast improvement in biodiversity. 

“Since welcoming Greening Australia and the Restoring Australia initiative onto our property, we have seen huge changes in the landscape and an improvement in grazing and shelter for the cattle,” she says, adding that Australian wildlife have started venturing back to the natural environment as part of the tree planting. “As the habitat has expanded, we’ve seen more birds return to the property and we now see an abundance of pelicans, ibis and seagulls in the swamps. We also see a lot of echidnas due to the increased protection the plantings have provided.

“We would not be at the point we’re at if it wasn’t for the support of Officeworks and Greening Australia and partnerships like the Restoring Australia initiative.”

 A GIF series showing farmer Alice Armistead checking a young tree, Alice walking alongside and talking to a Greening Australia team member, and landscape shots of Alice’s property where trees have been planted.
The planting of more than 12,000 trees on Alice Armistead’s Victorian Volcanic Plains property has dramatically improved the natural habitat for local wildlife.

Restoring the Balance

When Candice Anderson moved to a 24-hectare property near Cooma, in the NSW Monaro region, she was looking for a tree change. Her land is home to rare grassy woodland but Candice soon discovered the landscape, like many areas in the region, was degraded and endemic species were disappearing.

In 2019, under the guidance of a Greening Australia ecologist and with the help of team members from Officeworks, 300 new trees – ribbon gums, broad-leaved peppermint and silver wattle among them – were added to Candice’s plot. Despite ongoing drought conditions, most of the trees are thriving and the landscape is regenerating. “Biodiverse landscapes are resilient landscapes,” says Candice, who tends to the property almost every day. “If you have a lot of plants and animals on your land, it’s a healthy landscape.”

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Farmers Face the Future

Not far from Candice’s property, the McGufficke family has been breeding merino sheep for 90 years. With parts of their land suffering from a mysterious dieback of the native ribbon gum trees, affecting the fragile ecosystem, daughters Ivy and Miranda decided to take action. They knew that if the farm was to be productive for a fifth generation of their family, they needed to do something. 

A group of adults, some wearing blue Officeworks jackets, crouched around a new tree planting in an effort to improve the natural environment.
Tree planting on the McGufficke family property near Cooma is helping improve the natural environment.

“I don’t think we can remember the trees having leaves on them and we’ve been here our entire lives,” says Miranda. About 17 years ago, the family fenced off a particularly damaged section of land and, in 2019, began replanting it with the help of the Restoring Australia initiative. “It’s amazing seeing the regeneration of the new plants,” she says. “They’ve come from nothing. There’s birdlife we’ve never seen before, endangered species and lots of animals coming through.”

Miranda and Ivy’s mother, Michelle McGufficke, can remember what this country was like before the dieback, with gum tree canopies and extensive birdlife, and understands the urgent need to attempt to reverse the environmental damage. “For what our business is, we have to look after the land in order to be productive,” she says. “The girls can see that. But we’re restricted with the time we can dedicate to regeneration. Without the support of Officeworks, their volunteers and Greening Australia staff, it would have taken a lot longer and been a lot harder.”

Did You Know? The Restoring Australia initiative has planted over 1.45 million trees over 1900 hectares nationally since its inception in 2017.

Three women in warm clothing tending to and checking a tree planting on a rural NSW sheep farm.  
Miranda and Ivy McGufficke and their mother Michelle checking on tree seedlings planted on their NSW sheep farm.

Greening the Community

What the Officeworks Restoring Australia initiative has done in this region of NSW is similar to that at other sites around the country, including the wheatbelt region of Western Australia, South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula and the Strzelecki Ranges in Victoria. 

“We focus on areas where we can help conserve natural landscapes and improve biodiversity outcomes,” says Officeworks managing director Sarah Hunter of the Restoring Australia tree planting. “It could be restoring woodland ecosystems, improving habitats for threatened species or rejuvenating existing bushlands. We work closely with Greening Australia to identify the most suitable planting sites each year, where the trees we plant can have the most impact.”

Wetlands area of Serpentine Lagoon in Queensland, Australia, which is benefiting from a restoration initiative to benefit the natural environment.‍
Tree planting around Lake Mary and Serpentine Lagoon has helped restore the natural environment.

In Queensland, planting around Lake Mary and Serpentine Lagoon is restoring coastal wetlands that protect the Great Barrier Reef from silt and pollutants. Kangaroo Island’s wild residents have been the benefactors of more than 40,000 new trees. In Tasmania alone, more than 218,000 trees have been planted to create habitat corridors for the island state’s many small mammals. 

And it’s not just Officeworks customers that are making a positive difference. Officeworks team members are just as committed to Restoring Australia – they are able to attend volunteer days to plant trees in areas near them and help with other regenerative work. “It’s a great opportunity for us,” says team member Braden Simmons of helping on both the Anderson and McGufficke properties. “But this is also a good way for us to get out in nature and give back.”

What to Try

SEE ALSO: Tree Regeneration 101: Greening Australia

This article was originally published in 2021 and has been updated.