Nestled within the breathtaking landscapes of Tasmania, a remarkable project is raising the profile of mental health, supported by a 2022/23 Responsible Wood Community Grant. Spearheaded by the Tasmanian Arboricultural Organisation (TAO), this initiative painted two trees in prominent Tasmanian locations, contributing to the national Blue Trees Project. However, it was more than just a creative endeavour; it was a heartfelt effort to initiate conversations and break the silence surrounding mental health issues.
The project received a generous boost from Responsible Wood, an organisation dedicated to promoting responsible forestry practices, including strengthening relationships with regional forestry communities. The Responsible Wood Community Grants Program provided the necessary funds for TAO to bring this vision to life.
One of the standout trees, located on Norton Mandeville Farm in Gretna, now stands tall with a striking blue trunk, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Tasmanian Arboricultural Organisation. This transformation has turned an otherwise insignificant tree into a special new attraction in Southern Tasmania. The project is part of the global Blue Tree Project, which aims to create discussions about mental health. In total, 11 trees across Tasmania have been turned blue as part of this meaningful initiative.
Towards the north of the state the first stroke of blue paint graced the trunk of a majestic eucalyptus tree at Landfall Farm, a scenic private property located on the East Tamar Highway in Dilston. This symbolic act brought together two skilled arborists, their families, and the dedicated Project Officer from TAO. The power of social media played a significant role in garnering support, with the local community rallying behind TAO’s mission, thanks to Responsible Wood’s grant funding. Passers-by in their cars couldn’t help but show their support, with horns beeping in solidarity. Local Tasmanian newspaper, The Examiner, conducted an interview to capture the significance of this unique project.
“We really don’t know much about painting, but we’re willing to give it a crack. So we got up there, had a bit of a laugh, and had a conversation while we were up there,” said Thomas Maine from the Tasmanian Arboricultural Organisation.
The second tree received its coat of blue at Norton Mandeville, a charming private farm nestled along the Lyell Highway in Gretna. Social media once again played a pivotal role in rallying the community, resulting in an even more impressive turnout. Six professional arborists, the Project Officer, the farm manager, and the neighbouring farm owners all came together for a barbeque lunch, blending laughter and camaraderie with heartfelt discussions about mental health.
The success of the tree painting events caught the eye of the local media. Responsible Wood’s support and grant were prominently featured in a well-researched and presented news report by Tasmanian media outlets. The community responded wholeheartedly, with local businesses also stepping up to contribute.
Following the airing of the Blue Tree story, individuals who had faced mental health challenges reached out to the project’s participants. They shared their stories and found solace in the project’s message. Even the older gentlemen at the nearby Men’s Shed recognised the project’s alignment with their objectives, offering heartfelt congratulations.
The Tasmanian Arboricultural Organisation’s Blue Tree Project has not only achieved its goals but has exceeded expectations. It stands as a testament to the power of regional forest communities, mental health advocacy, and responsible forestry.
“On behalf of the Tasmanian arboricultural community and the wider community, heartfelt thanks are extended to Responsible Wood for the opportunity to participate in this remarkable project. It has been a rewarding project and, most importantly, the positive exposure of industry groups and critical mental health discussions.”