National Tree Day News - Picnics and Dragways?

Picnics and Dragways?

Date: 20-May-10
Author: Tracey Yong

In 2006, Marcus Zorich of the Koala Retreat made an unconventional partnership with the Western Sydney International Dragway (WSID) to transform 70 hectares of urban landscape into a luscious environment that helps both koalas and people.

Building The New Urban Koala Retreat

Members of Koala Retreat and keen community volunteers gather on National Tree Day to put their hands in the earth to plant native trees and care for the land. The WSID has set up two ambitious tree-planting projects, showing the potential of this type of program in an urban area. The first project is designed to benefit koalas, where leaves can be recycled and branches brought back for koalas in captivity. The second is for the people and for the environment, ‘combining economics with conservation’.

These planting projects have added a new dimension to the Dragway, making it more than just a sporting destination but a place where families can picnic under the shade of Australian native trees.

Widespread Benefits

Prior to the program, this urban landscape suffered from dry heat and wind, with no trees to help retain moisture. The WSID used huge amounts of water and manpower to keep the grass green all year round. Now in 2010, there have been reductions across the board, in cost, water use and in labour needed to maintain the area.

Through this long-term project, Koala Retreat has helped WSID improve the quality of its grounds, showing how a natural setting and human traffic can merge and thrive successfully with little cost to the environment.

To find out more about Koala Retreat, visit

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