It’s no secret that our climate is in trouble, and Potts Point local Aymeric Maudous has made it his mission to do something about it.
The former marketer is the founder and director of global reforestation project Lord of the Trees. I’ve known Aymeric for about ten years now, and I’m lucky enough to call him a friend.
We sat down recently to chat about the incredible work he’s doing with Lord of the Trees and why he’s never moved out of Potts Point.
You’ve lived in Potts Point for a while now Aymeric.
I moved to Australia 16 years ago, and I’ve been in the same zip code for 16 years. I’ve moved five times in between Elizabeth Bay and Potts Point, but I haven’t really moved away from here. And Jason, you and I have been friends for more than ten years now.
That’s right, I remember I used to see you around Macleay Street all the time before we first said hello. Have you ever wanted to live in another part of Sydney?
Five and a half years ago I was looking to buy an apartment. And I thought that would be an opportunity to get out of the ‘hood, but for every three apartments that I would visit in the wider Eastern suburbs, I would always come back to this area.
And then one fateful day you and I bumped into one another …
I’d been looking for six months, and I was coming back from visiting a place in Woollahra when I happened to cross the street at exactly the same time as you were. You said, “I’ve got a key in my pocket. There’s one place I want to show you.” So, I went with you to look at the place, and as soon as you opened the door, I knew that was the apartment. You know what I mean?
You were home.
What do you think kept you in Potts Point?
Mainly the convenience. It’s a very easy neighbourhood to live in. The proximity of restaurants and the organic farmer’s market on Saturdays is great. It’s very easy to go in and out to the city, for example, in 20 minutes. I’m only 15 minutes away from the Botanical Gardens, and I can go swimming at the Boy Charlton pool. I go for walks up to Darling Point.
One thing that I really like is the contrast with the nearby King’s Cross. I don’t like places that are too gentrified. I like a little bit of the spice of life.
No doubt about it, the character of this area really is special. Tell us about what you did before you started Lord of the Trees?
My background is marketing. I lived in America for ten years before moving to Sydney. I was the coordinator of international marketing for Walt Disney World in Florida. After that, I moved to California and I did marketing for Louis Vuitton. And then when I moved to Australia 16 years ago, I decided to go back to uni. I went to UNSW and I got a master’s in environmental management and that set off my career in sustainability.
And then in 2019, you started Lord of the Trees?
That’s right. The big climate change problem was in the back of my mind, and I really wanted to do something to be part of the solution. One night I was watching a documentary by David Attenborough about the Galapagos Islands. David was explaining that it took millions of years for seeds to colonise those islands. There was an image of seagull droppings and he said those seeds that were carried by birds had the best chance of survival because of the rich nutrients of the bird poop. And that was my ‘aha!’ moment. That’s when I realised this is what we need to do. We’re going to emulate nature and replace birds with drones and create a seed pod that would be rich in nutrients, load those seed pods into the drone and go back into the landscapes and help reforest.
Such a brilliant idea.
Thank you. It’s very fulfilling. We talk about protecting species and it’s great. I love my job.
How does the Lord of the Trees system of reforestation work?
We do precision planting. The drones shoot the seed pods precisely into the landscape. We have a proprietary software and technology, which maps out the best location for each tree species going back into the landscape.
Do you regenerate bushland after a bushfire?
Yes, it’s a little bit like looking at a crystal ball into the past, at what plants have been destroyed, especially after bushfire. If you remember the devastating effects of the fires in the Blue Mountains in 2019, the fire was so strong that it completely sterilised the seed bank that was in the soil. There was no way for the plants to revegetate themselves. We look at the plants that used to grow there and we also work with endangered species, trying to reintroduce into the landscape plants that are on the endangered species list. In New South Wales, 60% of the endangered species are not animals, they’re plants.
Wow, that’s huge.
Yeah, not a lot of people know that. So, we’re trying to reintroduce those via the few seeds that are available in plant banks. We work with local Aboriginal communities as well to determine which plants to revegetate with. And we look at the effect of climate change. We take into account the fact that the Earth is warming up and sometimes we have to select a different species from the same plant family, one that is more heat-resistant for the future.
What’s next for Lord of the Trees?
We had a meeting yesterday with Transport for New South Wales to look at a project to replant the median strips in the middle of highways with wildflowers. This would help to sustain the declining bee population as well as eliminate the need to maintain the grass on the median strips, which takes a lot of resources. It’s been done very successfully in England and America, so we are trying to bring that here to Australia.
What a great way to beautify our highways as well as help the environment. How can people like you and me, living and working in an urban area like Potts Point, make a difference to the environment in our everyday lives?
Something very simple is to pick up the plastic whenever you walk. That would be my best advice to anyone. We can all do that. Everyone in Eastern Sydney is only 15 minutes away from a beach. So whenever we see a piece of plastic on the ground, it will ultimately end up in the ocean. Especially in this area, we’re so connected to the nearby water that we have to take care of it and be the custodians of that ecosystem. And it’s a very simple thing that doesn’t cost anything to pick up plastic and put it in a bin. What I usually do, I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I always have a doggy bag in one of my pockets. And when I go for my walks, I just carry a doggy bag and I fill it up with little pieces of plastic that I find. And I’ll just put it in the bin. It’s that easy.
Great piece of advice. And if we all did it, it would make a big difference. Thanks for the chat Aymeric. You can find out more about Lord of the Trees at their website.