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Mice Net : February 2009
canberra John Mackay overlooking the 250 hectare Arboretum. Photograph by Graeme Kemlo. Greenest Green However, with a 10 minute coach ride into Canberra’s suburbs, where bushfires in January 2003 blackened the pine plantations and scarred the hilltops, the city suddenly reveals her grandest, greenest plan, and possibly one of her best kept secrets: the Canberra International Arboretum and Gardens. Delegates were unanimous in praise for this greening of the capital once they heard chairman John Mackay explain the vision. And, when they saw the scale of the work in progress to recycle the blackened landscape and turn it into a 250 hectare forest, comprising 100 forests of “local and exotic threatened, rare or unique tree species” they were suitably impressed. Already 20 forests are established with trees raised from seed sourced globally, including cork oak, Himalayan cedar and Australia’s newest re-discovery, the Wollemi pine - fossils reveal it grew here 200 million years ago. In virtually the same location as Griffin suggested back in 1915 that an arboretum should be established, this forest of forests might become the ultimate green meeting place. John Mackay, Canberra’s 2008 citizen of the year, is proud of his green event destination and says there’s even a plan for a five-star eco-hotel near a magnificent natural amphitheatre sculpted into a hillside amid the growing forests. Team-based challenge Challenging delegates on day three before flights back home were team-based problem solving activities which required them to traverse the parliamentary triangle, National Library and National Gallery causing absolutely zero emissions. Some were obviously bike-fit, others a little rusty, and one delegate had never been on two wheels before. It was a salient reminder of global warming and Canberra obliged with a suitably hot day for the occasion. Event planning just got a whole lot easier... mice.net 137