Thirty years ago, at an international Rotary conference Trees for Survival was born.
The premise was simple; enable school children to grow native plants and restore their natural environment using them.
Since its humble beginnings being run by volunteers at a single school in Pakuranga, Trees for Survival has thrived.
The programme now involves 150 schools throughout New Zealand, and in 2021 104,000 plants were planted by 4,600 students. And this year, the programme is coming to Taranaki.
“We are very excited to be coming to Taranaki,” says Sally Clegg, Trees for Survival Programme Manager.
“We love being able to restore streams and hillsides while teaching our tamariki to care for their natural environment. We have five new Taranaki schools onboard; two in Waitara (Manukorihi and Huirangi) and three in New Plymouth (St Joseph’s, Devon Intermediate and Spotswood College). Moturoa School has been affiliated with us for many years and has been doing their mahi independently, so they’re definitely also involved.”
The process is simple; seed collectors ecosource seeds from plants near the areas to be restored. The seeds are sent to a commercial nursery where they are germinated and, when ready, the seedlings
are sent to schools who grow them in their propagation units for about nine months.
In winter, the seedlings are planted by students in their restoration areas.
“We’ve ecosourced all the seeds we need for the Taranaki projects, and they’re currently being germinated,” says Sally.
“The New Plymouth Menzshed have agreed to assemble the propagation units and will install them at the schools. The schools will get their seedlings around September and next winter they’ll plant them.”
In May, a Taranaki Regional Facilitator was appointed.
“The local facilitators are the key to our success,” says Sally. “They have local knowledge and work with schools, the community, DOC and tangata whenua to select regeneration sites and work through any challenges along the way.”
When given the opportunity to support Tree for Survival’s expansion to Taranaki, Todd Energy was more than happy to help out.
“An education-based model for restoration of our natural environment is something we’re thrilled to support,” says Hannah Heberley, Community Partnerships at Todd Energy.
“Trees for Survival’s programme enables kids to get out of their comfort zone, to get their hands dirty and to feel like they’re really making a difference. We love how Trees for Survival gets the whole community
involved; kids, teachers, families and tangata whenua, and it’s fantastic to have the local Menzshed team assembling the propagation units.”
“We wish the students all the best with their restoration projects, and can’t wait to see the improvements to the local environment through this amazing initiative.”