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22 August 2016

Trees steal the show

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Softball, baseball, karate, skateboarding, climbing and surfing have recently been approved by the International Olympic Committee for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. From watching the opening ceremony of this year’s games in Rio, you’d be forgiven for thinking that tree-planting was also on the list of internationally recognised sports. Even if it turns out that it’s not the latest sport to be approved, there’s still something about the idea of Olympic-level tree planting that is distinctively delightful and quietly compelling.

The seeds and seedlings of 217 tree species were carried into the Macarana Arena on August 5 to symbolize the intended planting of an Athletes’ Forest upon completion of these Games. Trees also formed the five rings of the Olympics that signify the five continents. The stark reality of the melting Arctic ice cap, rising sea levels, of the rates of deforestation and of biodiversity loss were laid out for the global audience. Stunning aerial photography and compelling, sobering and impossible to ignore graphs and trendlines of sea levels, of temperature, of where they have been and where they are heading if nothing is done. The opening ceremony set the scene for the games, but it also provided an arena for the idea of reforestation as being a critical part of the solution to these issues. 

Placing reforestation alongside these Olympic games begs the question “what if reforestation was undertaken with the dedication, commitment, excellence, and drive of the worlds’ elite athletes, and its accomplishments celebrated with global acknowledgement?”.

 What if reforestation was an issue that took center stage with a global audience watching to see if we reach our ultimate goal?

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Cathy Symington

PhD
Ambassador

Cathy is a passionate and compelling educator in environments, sustainability and biological sciences with 15+ years experience as a lecturer.  She is skilled in coaching and consulting in leadership, effectiveness and engagement with over 12 years in this discipline, as well as being accredited as a mediator for dispute resolution.