Meet the Group Destigmatising Mental Health in Tassie Forestry

The Blue Trees Project was one of last year's Responsible Wood Community Grants projects. Register by November 3 for this year's program!

Thu 14 Sep 23


Arborists have transformed two otherwise insignificant Tasmanian trees into unique attractions, all in the name of mental health.

Delivered as part of the ‘Blue Trees Project’, trees were painted blue to spark difficult conversations and encourage people to ‘speak up’ and discuss mental health concerns.

A recipient of last year’s Responsible Wood Community Grants program, the project has helped reduce animosity within the Tasmanian forest industry and increase social connections and connectivity.

The grant saw the Tasmanian Arboricultural Organisation, supported by Responsible Wood and its Tasmanian-certified forests, awarded $4,500.00 for the project.

The first tree was painted on Landfall Farm, a private property on the East Tamar Highway in Dilston, whilst the second was on a Norton Mandeville farm in Gretna – west of Hobart.

According to Rach Denholm, Vice Chair of the Tasmanian Agricultural Organisation, “many cars beeped their horns in support as they passed,” whilst arborists painted both trees.

The group conducted interviews with The Examiner newspaper and 7 News, resulting in “several people reaching out and talking about their mental health experience to participants who were on television.” 

The Blue Tree Project originated in Western Australia as a tribute to a young man who tragically took his life in 2018.

Since then, nearly 1,000 blue trees have been registered worldwide, each serving as a symbol to ignite mental health conversations.

Rebecca Barnes, who helped with the first tree, emphasised raising awareness about mental health, particularly in industries like arboriculture, which predominantly employ men.

“A big part of society these days is creating awareness for mental health. It’s important, especially in an industry like arboriculture, where suicide in men is remarkably higher. So, I think it’s worth talking about.”

The Responsible Wood Community Grants Program is back for 2023/24

The Responsible Wood Community Grants program is back, and it is looking to build on the success of last year’s program. 

For 2023/24, Responsible Wood will provide grants of between $2,000 and $15,000 to community groups across Australia, with a total of $40,000 to be made available for the program.

After three years in charge, the program has a new Project Manager, Wood Central Publisher Jason Ross, replacing Megan Graham as Community Grants Project Coordinator.

In 2020, the Ballart Region Treegrowers were supported by HVP Plantations to develop the Drop Slab Hut under the Responsible Wood Community Grants program. Jason Ross, then Responsible Wood Marketing and Communications Officer attended the ribbon cut in March 2021. (Photo Credit: Responsible Wood)
In 2020, the Ballarat Region Treegrowers were supported by HVP Plantations to develop the Drop Slab Hut under the Responsible Wood Community Grants program. Jason Ross, then Responsible Wood Marketing and Communications Officer, attended the ribbon cut in March 2021. (Photo Credit: Responsible Wood)

He is excited to be involved with the program in what he said is “one of Australia’s most successful forest community initiatives.”

Since its launch in August 2020, the Responsible Wood Community Grants Program has connected with more than 50 community groups connected to Australian-certified forests.

Last year, the program funded various projects from across Australia, with nominations received from community groups in every state or territory.

Mr Ross said the scope for the community projects is open, encouraging communities to think about their needs, consult with a Responsible Wood-certified Forest grower, develop a project idea, and apply by November 3, 2023.

“If you have a project, please contact us, and we will connect you with a Responsible Wood certified forest manager or certified holder,” Mr Ross said.

“All applicants need to be supported or sponsored by a Responsible Wood-certified forest manager or certificate holder, and we can encourage partner contributions where appropriate.”

Responsible Wood now has a dedicated section on its website for Community Grants, and Mr Ross urges all Responsible Wood members, certificate holders and community groups to review the website for more information.

“The website is an invaluable resource; it includes information about the application process, the key selection criteria, information about past recipients and an extensive frequently asked questions page,” he said.  

Tony Bartlett, Responsible Wood Chair, will head the judging panel, which includes Jacquie Martin, CEO of Forestry Australia, who will assess and judge all applicants.

The key dates include:
  • September 4 – November 3: The formal application process opens
  • In early December, applicants will be notified of their application status
  • Early February – formal announcement of successful recipients
  • May 31, 2024, projects are developed and completed


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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