“Trees That Count has the potential to create a powerful social movement. We want to plant millions more native trees and reverse New Zealand’s carbon emissions, says Project Crimson Chair Joris De bres. “Counting trees means that we can recognise the efforts of every New Zealander and measure the impact we are having on climate change.”
The project has identified specific trees on their website that will make the most difference to ensure everyone’s efforts count. While all trees suck up carbon the project is focussing on native trees that grow to at least 5 metres at maturity. Native trees support native birds and insects and help with restoring waterways. The trees must also be planted with a commitment to protect and manage them through to maturity.
An important principle of Trees that Count | Te Rahi o Tāne is partnership and in 2016 the Trust supported a number of groups, including rūnanga and iwi, to undertake planting projects in their areas.
Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Coastal Trust organised planting 2000 trees in Tūhaitara Coastal Park on ANZAC day last year. The North Canterbury park, which covers 575 hectares from Waimakariri river mouth to Waikuku, is the result of the Ngāi Tahu settlement with the Crown and has been gifted to the people of Aotearoa. “They’ve committed to planting 2000 trees a year for the next 5 years and have a 200 year vision for the restoration of the park.” Says Joris. “That’s exciting stuff.”
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Manawa opened their tree planting day with a blessing and involved the local school children in planting activities just before Arbor Day last year. A grove of totara were planted in memory of war veterans on land that had been returned to them through their Treaty settlement in 2011 as a site of cultural significance. They have plans to restore the 10ha area at Kani Rangi Park in Murupara by planting native trees to increase biodiversity, combat the effects of climate change as well as enhance the area for recreational use.
For 2017, Trees That Count is encouraging gifting of trees to further support these projects. For the first quarter of 2017, all funds donated at www.treesthatcount.co.nz will support Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Coastal Trust to plant an additional 2000 natives trees on ANZAC Day alongside Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Christchurch Student Volunteer Army.
While the big planting projects are exciting, Joris is inspired by the many benefits of planting trees, and not just the environmental aspects. “What’s great about this project is that everyone can be involved. There are just so many benefits to planting trees – for us, for the soil, for birds and wildlife, for cultural reasons or to commemorate whānau members or occasions. Even those in denial about climate change can find a reason to plant a tree.”
With the best tree planting time not until April there is still some time to get organised and be involved. People are encouraged to pledge to plant a tree, to donate or sponsor a tree or project planting, to gift a tree, to volunteer their time or even pledge land that would benefit from tree plantings.