Our reforestation projects down under
Land Life Company has reforestation projects all around the world, including where there are kangaroo road crossing signs and eucalyptus-leaf eating koalas. More specifically, Victoria, Australia. Unfortunately, the impact of climate change is becoming ever more apparent in the country, with devastating wildfires growing in frequency. In addition, the land and soils have been greatly degraded due to a century of overfarming.
We spoke with our operations manager in Australia, Jeroen van Veen, to learn more about how he is helping us expand our operations in the down under.
Q: Where are you from originally and where do you currently live?
Jeroen: I grew up a Rotterdammer, but with broad horizons. When I studied journalism, the pull of the open road and adventure got to me, and I dropped out of school, walked with my backpack to the entrance of the motorway, stuck my thumb up and never looked back.
I eventually ended up in Victoria, Australia, where I fell in love with the rugged Australian environment. Australia still has, what I call, “the bounce.” It’s the ability of the natural environment to bounce back from the damage we have inflicted upon it. The talent of the Australian bush to turn itself back to something ancient is what I love about this place, and it gives me a place and grounding I never had in Holland.
I have since come to understand “the bush,” how it works, what all the different plants and animals do, and how you can help it along. This in turn gives me an ever greater appreciation of nature and our local long-suffering landscapes.
Q: How did you begin working with Land Life Company?
Jeroen: In order to get more trees in the ground locally here in Victoria, I contacted Land Life about 4 years ago to see if they were interested in starting projects here. We got to talking, and Hielke Heida [operations manager for Land Life] from the Amsterdam office came to visit; and the first trees that went in the ground in 2019 were some 10 kilometres from my house.
Q: What made you want to work with Land Life Company?
Jeroen: I am the local group officer with the volunteer fire service which gives me a completely different perspective on trees and forests again. It also gives me first hand experience of climate change as I spent a lot of time on the fireground during the recent bushfire crises we have had in Australia. In previous decades we always had a few years respite between these crises, but these days the big fires appear to crop up more often. The extreme fire behaviour we saw in 2019-2020 in all states of Eastern Australia was something else. You should have been there to understand the ferociousness we were up against. It was on a different level altogether.
We need to restore nature as a matter of the highest possible priority. It’s not so much because Earth is in trouble.
Q: What are you specifically doing for Land Life Company’s reforestation projects?
Jeroen: I have since come to represent Land Life in Australia, and it is my job to find new opportunities here and in New Zealand, so we can restore more parts of these two unique countries. I locate potential new sites, negotiate with landholders and contractors, and keep Amsterdam informed on what is going on with the projects that we have already started so far.
It’s a great job, as we are often the partner that local community environment groups have been waiting on and looking for. This opens doors and makes it easy to find people whose values align with those of Land Life.
There is great potential for Land Life to expand its operations downunder. It’s a very big place. We’ll make it happen!
Read more about our reforestation projects in Australia.