Trees for Survival

June 28, 2017 at 1:27 PM

With thanks to student reporter, Kenya Ashcroft

Armed with 1200 plants and big green hearts, last weeks ‘Trees for Survival’ planting trip marked a celebratory conclusion of the hard work from the College’s Environmental Team. Every Wednesday and Friday lunchtime for the past 12 months, the Enviro team has nurtured these thousand plus seedlings with the aim of restoring rural waterways and balancing the local ecosystems.

The Environment Team at the College is in its fourth year of involvement with the Auckland Council led initiative ‘Trees for Survival’, a program aiming to tackle rural waterway quality that is polluted by the NZ Beef and Dairy industry. This is achieved by the council uniting Auckland school environment 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 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 and shrubs such as harakeke, mahoe, cabbage, caprosma, kanuka and totara, nitrates and pesticides that would otherwise contaminate our precious water are absorbed, with the foliage also providing habitats and opportunity for native biodiversity. It is sobering to know that over 70% of New Zealand’s streams, rivers, lagoons and lakes are unsafe to use recreationally (MfE 2014 census), so the College taking part in the Trees for Survival programme is a great step towards promoting sustainable farm management and happier, healthier waterways in Auckland for all of us to enjoy in the future.

Our recent planting trip has had the greatest outcome so far, almost doubling the number of trees we’ve raised since June 2015. Not only will our contribution make a difference in the soil, water and biodiversity quality of the area, it is significant in striving for Mayor Phil Goff’s recent ‘One million Trees planted by 2020’ goal. Such ingenuity for Auckland is vital for a replenished atmosphere that is offset by the 1.9 billion tonnes of CO2 that transportation around Auckland city alone releases in a year! 

Furthermore, if this initiative gains popularity and success within schools throughout New Zealand, soon as a nation we are contributing towards the fight against Climate Change.  With a greater goal in mind, the College Enviro team can only progress and conquer. We are aiming to increase our productivity thrice over, so watch this space.

This event could not have been such a success without the time, energy and positivity of ‘Enviro’ teachers Miss Butler, Ms Holmes, Mrs Coughlan and Mrs Ehrhart, which the ‘Enviro’ team very much appreciates, so a major thankyou to them.

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