Students across the country are writing poems in the hope of creating a forest in Wollongong.
For every poem submitted in Poem Forest, a national poetry competition, a new tree will be planted in the Wollongong local government area.
"All young people across the country can participate in this at once and see that their words and their voices and their hopes for the future they do make a difference, they can make a tangible change when it comes to climate," Dr Tamryn Bennett, artistic director at Red Room Poetry, said.
Dr Bennett, from Stanwell Park, created the Poem Forest competition in 2021 and since then 10,700 trees have been planted.
Students and teachers are being encouraged to write to enact positive climate action.
Gardening Australia presenter and Illawarra local Clarence Slockee is one of the competition's judges.
Mr Slockee, an Aboriginal man from the Bundjalung nation, is looking for poems which connect nature and words.
His advice to poets is to not be self-conscious and write what you feel: "I think any sort of art is good for the soul."
The trees will be planted in bush care sites, public parks, open areas, and streets but the Wollongong Botanic Garden is strongly encouraging local students to plant a tree in their own backyards.
Local students can opt to plant a tree supplied by the Wollongong Botanic Garden Nursery to improve the area's tree canopy cover.
Felicity Skoberne, curator of the Wollongong Botanic Garden explained the situation: ""25% of the land in Wollongong is actually managed by council, 75% is on private land.
"We can do as much as we can do but without people actually planting on their own property we're not going to be able to make a difference in Wollongong."
The current tree canopy cover in Wollongong is 17 per cent well below the national average of 39 per cent, according to the Wollongong City Council's Urban Greening Strategy 2017-2037.
"We need to really increase the canopy cover in Wollongong as part of our Urban Greening Strategy to make sure that we have in the future enough trees to sustain our natural environment and to make the environment a better place," Ms Skoberne said.
The 2023 Poem Forest competition launched on March 21, World Poetry Day. Entries will close on September 22.
"We'd love to hear your thoughts through your poetry. So, please get involved because it'll be a fun thing to do and you may just win a prize in the process," Ms Skoberne said.
"For every single poem that you should contribute you're contributions are actually really improving our local environment."
For students within Wollongong LGA, there is an additional Wollongong Community Greening Local Prize (K-12) which includes a $50 plant voucher for the best poem and a school excursion. A local school prize for the best collaborative class poem will be awarded with 30 trees from the Wollongong Botanic Garden Nursery.