Written by John Williams
Photography by John Williams
Their end goal is to restore natural habitats by helping landowners re-vegetate erosion-prone land, improve stream flow and water quality, and increase biodiversity.
The venue for this year’s outing is Dave and Wendy Moore’s 500-acre farm, set in picture-perfect rolling countryside between Warkworth and Matakana. The Moores are huge supporters of this initiative, having been actively involved since 2007 and dedicating ten separate sites on their property to the tree-planting programme.
“We first got involved through the local Rotary Club, who are a strong supporter of the programme,” says Moore. “And here we are, eleven seasons later, still doing it. I think everyone’s had a lot of enjoyment along the way… doing the planting and seeing the results.”
Moore can certainly see the benefits of retiring selected areas of his land that have become unproductive, and turning them into a positive for the planet by planting trees on them. “These areas are all fenced off from stock now, and the new plantings are helping to bind the steeper hillsides, helping stop erosion,” he says. “And those where the bush has now grown are filtering the streams that run through them, so we don’t have the siltation and run-off into the natural waterways. Then there’s the aesthetic benefits,” he adds. “And you can’t put a price on that.”
“It’s also great to see all the kids up here, and the benefits they get out of it. You don’t have to plant many trees to remember the experience,” he says. “Some of the students from Takapuna have been up here three or four seasons in a row – so the sense of reward they get great to see.”
Frankie Hofland is a coordinator for the Trees For Survival. On the day, she talks to the children about the species of trees they’re planting, how to plant them, and the importance of why they’re planting them.
“It’s been a busy planting season,” she says. “We have 30 more schools on board than this time last year, and we hope to get that number up to 150 schools within the next few years. As a consequence we actually need to get a few more landowners like Wendy and Dave on board.”
Hofland goes onto say that she has a lot of fond memories of this particular site. “A school that’s come back here for ten years in a row is Takapuna Grammar – in fact this year was their eleventh visit,” she says. “And what’s really great about this particular group is that they’re all special needs kids. We have had such a great time with them. They all get so much out of their day up here, as do we.”
Ray White Damerell Group’s Director, Simon Damerell, has long been a strong advocate for planting trees, having personally planted over 60,000 trees – “two for every day I’ve been alive,” he grins. “This is our third year with the Trees For Survival programme, and we’re really proud to be involved. It’s fantastic to see the school children getting their hands dirty, raising these trees from seedlings and now planting them out here at this beautiful location.”
Why We Need More Trees
According to the latest estimates, there are 3.1 trillion trees on Earth. That’s more trees on our tiny planet than there are stars in the Milky Way. Yep, that’s a lot of trees – around 422 trees per person, give or take – but we need every last one of them, and more besides.
It’s often said that trees are the lungs of our planet. Why? Because their leaves absorb air, and in doing so, gobble up the harmful ‘greenhouse gas’ carbon dioxide (CO2). Then, with help from the sun, they release lots of lovely oxygen, with the carbon remaining in the tree as branches and trunks. It’s an essential process that allows us humans (and all animal life) to survive on our beautiful planet.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that despite this seemingly huge number of trees, that’s only around half the number we used to have. Consequently, we are losing the battle with CO2, and we desperately need more trees – hence the importance of supporting programmes such as Trees For Survival.
Since 1991, Trees For Survival have enrolled the help of 120 schools throughout New Zealand, and planted in excess of 1.5 million trees. Do our planet a favour and take a leaf out of Ray White Damerell Groups’ book by getting involved with Trees For Survival. For more information, visit www.tfsnz.org.nz.