Australian athletes helped celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Tree Day last weekend, Australia's largest community tree-planting and nature care event.
In 2020 Australia's unique landscape was hit hard as bush-fires impacted so many communities over summer.
Dolls Point's Olympic water polo player Keesja Gofers' passion for nature motivated her to get involved and be engaged with the community to start a conversation around the importance of the environment.
"As well as being a water polo player I am also a florist, so this day has real significance to me. I find a lot of beauty in nature but I also think that connecting with nature is critical for our wellbeing," Gofers said.
"It's scientifically proven - and I looked it up because I really believe in this - that connecting with nature makes you feel better.
"It improves your mood and can have mental, physical, spiritual and emotional benefits - I really believe that connecting with nature is so important," she said.
Athletes joined the thousands of Australians who have volunteered their time to plant seedlings and restore unique Australian landscapes as part of National Tree Day, which has contributed to planting over 25 million trees since 1996.
Despite National Tree Day not being marked by public events for the first time in 25 years, Australian athletes have thrown their support behind Planet Ark's call to find creative ways to get involved and support our land and people's recovery from environmental and psychological trauma.
Planet Ark Deputy CEO Rebecca Gilling showed her appreciation for AIS athletes commitment to celebrating trees and helping communities around Australia connect with nature on National Tree Day.
"After the unparalleled start to the year we have had here in Australia, regeneration of our land and our well-being is more critical now than ever," said Gilling.
"We thank elite Australian athletes for supporting our efforts towards regeneration and making a pledge to connect with nature, and hope Australians will join them to #HugaTreeforNTD."
The AIS invites everyone to show their support during National Tree Day to get involved by joining the #HugATreeForNTD campaign online and share their commitment to connect with nature and support regeneration.