Tree planting to take action on climate change and 'eco-anxiety'

15 March 2022

A new CQUniversity-led study could help provide answers on ways to improve wellbeing within the community.

The research aims to understand why many people' particularly young people' suffer ongoing feelings of hopelessness and despair about the future due to climate change' and how they can overcome their concerns by taking action.

CQU PhD candidate Anne Nolan said she was motivated to understand 'eco-anxiety' after recent statistics showed that 75 per cent of young Australians think their future is frightening' and 84 per cent said they were worried about climate change.

"Data collected through Headspace Australia found a sudden spike in the incidence of emotional distress in people aged 18-35 was directly related to mounting anxiety about catastrophic global climate events'" Ms Nolan said.

"And with an increase in climate change events such as the recent flooding' these impacts are more prevalently reported through news' social media and other people's experiences."

She said that while people want to do something about climate change' they are often unsure of the impact of their actions.

In response' the Noosa resident has launched a tree planting event in her local community which will engage participants and evaluate the impact of their pro-environmental behaviour on their levels of concern.

"Not only do we have to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels' but we must draw down our carbon already in the atmosphere.

"By participating in a tree-planting program' this is something specific that people can do in direct response to climate change'" Ms Nolan said.

"Tree planting is a positive action that can be undertaken relatively simply but is often overlooked in its importance in the fight against climate change.

"Through this study' we aim to find out whether participants' concern is changed as a result of participating in a tree planting event' which aims to plant enough trees to offset their car's carbon emissions for six months."

The event is part of an iconic revegetation project in Noosa Shire with results also contributing to a large study into eco-anxiety across Australia.

"The tree planting event will run during March and April. The event will not only be helping to assist the Noosa community reach its target of zero emissions by 2026' but it will also aid in the revegetation and restoration of native habitats for wildlife."

This project has been funded by the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation (NBRF) along with supporting partners' Noosa Council' Zero Emissions Noosa' Greenfleet' and Noosa Landcare.

NBRF's funding will enable the 12-month long project to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention program to decrease levels of eco-anxiety.

To register your interest in the upcoming Noosa tree planting events' email