World-first Living Legacy Forest to provide unique memories near Wellington Dam

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Leschenault Community Nursery manager Kim Rossiter and sales and marketing manager Jess Humphries are excited to be a part of the Living Legacy Forest planting.
Camera IconLeschenault Community Nursery manager Kim Rossiter and sales and marketing manager Jess Humphries are excited to be a part of the Living Legacy Forest planting. Credit: Stuart McGuckin

A tree planting day with a profound twist will take place in the Wellington Forest on Sunday.

A world-first initiative will allow people to pay respect to their loved ones by incorporating their ashes into memorial trees within the 500,000sq m forest.

Living legacy founder Warren Roberts said he came up with the idea as he struggled to deal with the death of his best friend.

“I struggled to deal with her loss and it wasn’t until I was spending time in nature that I was feeling good again,” he said.

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“The more time I spent in nature the more I enjoyed being alive once more.

“I’d been grieving and avoiding so many feelings until I started wondering what it would be like if people’s ashes were in the trees so we could have that connection to what we lost in something that was living.”

He said the idea had been harder to implement than first thought.

“I worked with some of the best scientists in Australia and we killed every tree that we touched for the next 12 months,” he said.

“We quickly found that untreated ashes had a pH level equivalent to bleach or oven cleaner and they also contain about a cup of salt.

“As a consequence the untreated ashes were damaging to soil biology, but eventually we found a way to treat the ashes so that biology could co-exist with the ashes.

“Which basically means the person was becoming the tree.”

Once that was achieved, Mr Roberts sought an appropriate place to plant the forest so that it would also be able to support endangered wildlife.

Despite the organisation’s head office being in Melbourne, the Wellington Forest was identified as a prime location because its tall marri and jarrah trees form the habitat for quokkas and black cockatoos.

“Our conservation manager is based in Perth and we explored plenty of areas across WA, but this one stood out,” Mr Roberts said.

Leschenault Community Nursery has partnered with Living Legacy to support Sunday’s planting.

Nursery sales and marketing manager Jess Humphries said it had been a busy few weeks organising saplings since the nursery was first contacted.

“Once we did a little bit of research about what it was, we got really excited,” she said.

“It’s such a nice thing to grow the plants from seed and get them back out into that setting.

“It will be a really nice thing for families to go out to visit, sit under and touch — and to top it all off it’s good for the environment.”

Each family taking part will plant one tree along with three smaller native plants.

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