Prisoners in some Western Australian gaols will grow more than a million plants over the next few years as part of a massive reafforestation project for Rottnest Island.
Assisting Justice Minister Kevin Minson said today the Rottnest Island Authority had approached the Ministry of Justice with a proposal to grow all the tree and shrub seedlings required for the program.
"It will involve re-planting 100 hectares of the island each year for the next five to seven years," Mr Minson said.
"This project has brought together a number of agencies, from prisons to universities and scout clubs, with the aim of returning parts of Rottnest to the splendour that Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh would have encountered in 1696," he said.
"Funding has been provided by the Rottnest Island Foundation and the Rottnest Island Authority and the project utilises Justice Ministry facilities."
The plants will be those native to the island and seed gathered from the island will result in some 50,000 seedlings grown in the first year and up to 200,000 seedlings grown each following year in nurseries at Canning Vale Prison, Bunbury Regional Prison and Bandyup Women's Prison.
"Around 21,000 Rottnest Island Pine seedling are already well advanced at the Canning Vale Prison nursery, with thousands of other seedlings growing at the other two prisons," Mr Minson said.
"About 20 prisoners and three instructors have been involved in the germination and raising of the seedlings.
"This huge project will be achieved at relatively low cost by utilising the existing prison nursery facilities and enlisting the help of 800 scouts to help plant seedlings and Rottnest Island Foundations volunteers."
The reafforestation is part of the forest restoration program contained in he State Government's 1995 Rottnest Island Review and Management Plan and is part of the island's tricentennial naming celebrations.
"It is an outstanding example of the community pooling its resources for the betterment of one of the State's most popular holiday destinations," Mr Minson said.
"The first batch of seedlings will be planted out on the island after the first autumn rains."
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