New Botanic Garden poetry competition launches this month

Write a poem, plant a tree

Fancy yourself a bit of a wordsmith?

The Australia Botanic Garden, Mount Annan has a competition for you.

In collaboration with Red Room Poetry, the garden will launch the Poem Forest Prize this month.

The poetry competition invites children, students and teachers to create poems inspired by the natural environment.

And there's a bonus - every poem entered in the competition will see a native tree planted in a new forest at the gardens, helping restore habitat for critically endangered plants and animals.

The Poem Forest Prize encourages young people to use their words to make positive climate action through poetry.

All submitted poems will be published and go in the running to win $5000 worth of prizes.

Red Room artistic director, and leader of the Poem Forest project, Dr Tamryn Bennett said the idea was to value "words of young people with tangible action".

"During the School Strikes for Climate we heard from young people across the world how deeply they feel for nature and the climate and yet we've seen little in the way of real action from leaders," she said.

"This new prize aims to draw attention to the voices of young people, recognise them with real, genuine environmental outcomes and raise awareness about how we can all play a role in caring for Country.

"To protect the future, we need to connect young people with nature in a way that nurtures creativity, sparks inspiration and fosters action."

Poem Forest Prize principal patron John Fairfax said there were many great aspects of the new competition.

"Supporting the development of Poem Forest Prize achieves several vital outcomes," he said.

"It plants thousands of trees for the benefit of the local community and our environment; it encourages and introduces many people both young and old to the world of poetry; it involves the Indigenous peoples in the land that is so dear to them; and it is a wonderful project of nature and literature."

Garden chief executive Denise Ora said a lot of thought had gone into the forest.

"Every tree in the new forest has been chosen and nurtured from seed by our botanists and horticulturalists," she said.

"Planted onto a site that includes remnants of critically endangered woodlands and rainforests that once stretched across the Sydney region, it connects powerfully to young people's passionate aspirations for a sustainable future.

"As Poem Forest grows into a complex ecological community, home to countless species of plants, animals and fungi, it will continue to inspire new generations of environmental champions."

Commissioned poets Dakota Feirer (a BundjalungGumbayngirr man), Solli Raphael (youth ambassador and slam poet), Jane Gleeson-White (poet and author) and Arika Waulu (Djap Wurrung community activator) will inspire young entrants.

The Prize's judges are Holly Ringland (ABC Back to Nature), Bruce Pascoe (Dark Emu), Solli Raphael and Dr Cathy Offord (world-renowned scientist behind PlantBank and the Wollemi Pine cultivation).

The Poem Forest will include three grand tree species (Red Forest Gum, Grey Box, Narrowleaved Ironbark), Spotted Gums, White Cedars as well as a range of acacias, tea-trees and angophorahs.

The Garden hopes to plant 22,000 trees in three years.

All trees are grown in the Nursery from seeds collected and stored at the Australian PlantBank.

The Poem Forest Prize is open until Friday, September 17.

The forest site will be officially launched with a blessing ceremony on Tuesday, April 20.