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Yarning Circle made from wood donated by Melbourne Water

Out of the storm – timber from fallen trees donated by Melbourne Water creates lasting legacy

Fallen trees from the devastating 2021 Yarra Valley/Dandenong Ranges storms have been repurposed into beautifully crafted equipment and presented to graduating primary school children from the area by local State Member of Parliament Daniela De Martino.

Rather than go to waste, timber from hundreds of trees from the Silvan Reservoir “pipeline area” was donated by Melbourne Water to not-for-profit group Treasuring our Trees which has turned them into yarning circle seating, meeting tables, display cabinets, raised garden beds, rustic log fences, retaining walls, stool seating, bush cubbies, fairy houses and now graduation pens for several Mt Dandenong schools.

“To take trees that have fallen and turn them into something that is really beautiful and long lasting has resonated across the community,” Ms De Martino said.

“If you live in the hills you love the trees, so to see them being transformed in this way is quite special.” 

“I think it’s fantastic that Melbourne Water’s been supplying some of this timber. Instead of those trees ending up as wood chips, they’re now being converted into something that’s there for all to enjoy.”

This wooden table was made by Treasuring Our Trees by wood donated by Melbourne Water
This wooden table was made by Treasuring Our Trees by wood donated by Melbourne Water

Children from Mt Dandenong, Olinda, Sassafras and Emerald primary schools received a striking timber pen made from local Blackwood materials as a keepsake of the primary school years.

As part of the graduation ceremony, Dave Ferrier from Treasuring our Trees talked to the children about the importance of conservation, the spiritual connection to the land and nature around them, and the effective use of green waste.

“Melbourne Water backed our vision from the very start and donated an initial 600 to 700 small to medium logs that were destined to be firewood until we stepped in, which was fantastic,” Ferrier said.

“The response from the local community, particularly schools, has been mind-blowing, helping us spread the important messages of caring for land and each other.

“We have the attention of local, state and federal government who are fascinated by what we are doing and built a platform that allows us to showcase what we can do from a sustainability and environment perspective.

Approximately 60 hectares of land inside the Melbourne Water-managed Silvan Reservoir was impacted by the storms, with hundreds of damaged trees creating an unprecedented amount of debris.

Posing a bushfire threat, and needing to remove this excessive debris from the forest floor, Melbourne Water decided to support a sustainable schools project by donating some of this timber, transporting it direct to Treasuring our Trees.

“We had hundreds of trees down and were looking at our options when Dave from Treasuring our Trees contacted us with a plan to repurpose them through the sustainable schools project,” Melissa Carmody, Melbourne Water Project Manager Northern Region, Waterways & Catchment Delivery said.

“The Silvan catchment is managed for water supply protection, but is also a site of biodiversity significance for Melbourne Water and we need to carefully manage vegetation and fuel loads to protect both these values.

“Land management decisions need to consider these often conflicting values, and the school project is an important piece in helping us achieve this balance, so we’re proud to be involved. It really is an awesome initiative.”

For more information on Melbourne Water’s Silvan Reservoir storm debris removal project, click here.

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