In a secret location on the southside of an ancient volcano, 20 seedlings are being planted that scientists hope will restore the areas roots to its ancient past. The Nightcap Oak is part of a unique rainforest ecosystem that formed more than 40 million years ago when Australia was still connected to Asia, Antarctica, and South America.
For much of that time Australia was covered in dense rainforests and the Nightcap Oak thrived. As Australia moved north over the millennia, rainforests declined and the Nightcap now only survives in a tiny pocket of the New South Wales north coast, spread between the Jerusalem and Nightcap National Parks.
Or at least they did until the summer bushfire season of 2019/20 wiped out most of the remaining population. Led by Save Our Species, a group of people set about saving the Nightcap. They first had to collect seeds, a difficult task in the face of a hungry native bush rats that love the macadamia-like nut inside the seed. They are also notoriously difficult to propagate and very slow growing. Out of 500 seeds that were collected the botanists were able to produce 20 saplings that are now being planted in specially selected locations.