Trees for Survival - Helping Restore Local Waterways

June 18, 2021 at 2:15 PM

Armed with almost 1000 native plant seedlings, 30 College students from the Environmental Group, along with three teachers, put on their gumboots yesterday and headed to a planting site between Clevedon and Kawakawa Bay to help restore local waterways and help balance local ecosystems.

Over the past 12 months the students have been nurturing, ‘root training’ and ‘potting in’ 1000 tiny native plant seedlings supplied by the Trees for Survival Trust in collaboration with Auckland Council and Rotary. 

The Trees for Survival programme aims to tackle rural waterway quality that is polluted primarily by the beef and dairy industry, along with industrial pollutants that make their way into streams. Over a number of years, the council has been uniting Auckland school environmental teams with dairy farmers within the region, to plant ‘riparian zones’ around affected waterways.

Essentially, the regular combination of cattle excretion and pesticides that is released into farming soil, means nitrates and other toxins can leach into soils and waterways, causing major distress to aquatic organisms and the surrounding environment. If this is poorly regulated, often waterways are left oxidic by toxic algal blooms like Didymo, rendered unable to support lifeforms, unsafe to drink from and swim in. By planting hardy native trees, nitrates and pesticides, that would otherwise contaminate our precious water, are absorbed, with the new, healthy foliage also providing habitats and opportunity for native biodiversity. 

Mahunga, flax, cabbage trees, totara, manuka and kanuka are the first species to naturally seed and grow when land is being reclaimed back to bush, so it was a natural choice for our Trees for Survival team to propagate and harvest a variety of these.

Yesterday, our group managed to plant approximately 960 plants and were pleased to think that their efforts contributed to protecting wetlands and stabilising riverbanks, while helping to restore our natural habitat, reduce erosion, improve soil quality and the infiltration of rain water into the stream, and increase biodiversity by providing a good environment for birds and insects in particular. 

With the work completed, the students enjoyed a wonderful lunch provided by the landowner, and returned to school very tired, very muddy, but feeling accomplished, having done something truly worthwhile to improve our environment.

The work undertaken by our students is a great step towards promoting sustainable farm management and happier, healthier waterways in Auckland for all of us to enjoy in the future.

As well as the College, the Boys’ School has also been very active with the Trees for Survival programme for a number of years. If this initiative continues to gain popularity and success within schools throughout New Zealand, soon as a nation we will be contributing towards the fight against Climate Change.  With this greater goal in mind, the College Environmental Group are keen to continue their good work! Well done to all those students who have given their time and energy to such a great cause!


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