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Eco-City Shows The Way In Saving The Planet

Eco-City Shows The Way In Saving The Planet

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Thousands of volunteers take place in community tree planting days around Waitakere every year.

Waitakere is doing its bit to green New Zealand, and the planet.

Known as the “Eco-City”, Waitakere has planted almost 200,000 trees this year- a staggering 196,124 in fact. The bulk of these were native trees.

This is part of a general planting programme in parks, stream corridors and road reserves etc, and Waitakere is also part of the United Nations sponsored programme Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign.

The campaign aimed to plant a billion trees around the world this year- one million of those in New Zealand.

Waitakere deputy mayor Penny Hulse is delighted that her Council’s pledge to plant trees for that campaign contributed so significantly to the national total.

“Even more pleasing is that tens of thousands of trees in Waitakere were planted by community groups and volunteers. People here truly care for the environment and take real ownership of our streams, parks and even their own backyards. They rolled up their sleeves and got the job done.”

Several years ago Waitakere City Council distributed a million eco-sourced native seeds to residents who propagated and planted their own flaxes and grasses. Another initiative is the annual “Trees For Babies” planting days, where parents of new borns plant a tree in a local park in honour of their child.

“Global warming and climate change is a reality,” says Mrs Hulse. “When you have ice-bergs off the coast of Dunedin as we did in 2006 you know the planet is in real trouble. By planting trees and taking other measures such as reducing rubbish and car travel people can make a difference, it’s as simple as that.”

Mrs Hulse adds that trees and shrubs not only absorb carbon, but also play a vital role in controlling soil erosion and improving water quality and stream flows. “Tree plantings also create new habitats and increase biodiversity- and more trees create better looking towns and neighbourhoods,” she says.

The global Billion Tree Campaign was inspired by Professor Wangari Maathai, Africa’s foremost environmental campaigner and a 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Professor Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya and is responsible for planting more than 30 million trees throughout Africa.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, in announcing the success of the Billion Tree Campaign says: “There had been a few cynical smiles and shaking of heads when the Campaign was launched. But citizen after citizen, community after community and country after country, have proved the doubters wrong and demonstrated an abiding truth in 2007.”

Notes and background information:

  • Worldwide 32 million acres of forest, equivalent to the size of England, are destroyed each year and yet planting and natural expansion of the forest replaces less than 14 million acres.
  • In New Zealand indigenous and exotic forests account for less than a third of total land area where once forests covered two thirds of the country. Last year exotic forest replacement was the lowest for 60 years.
  • It is estimated that the one million trees planted this year in New Zealand mitigate the annual emissions of nearly 45,000 cars.
  • The government of Costa Rica, a popular eco-tourist destination, planning to be ‘carbon neutral’ by 2021, has planted 6.5 million trees this year and plans a further 7 million next year.

More information about Trees for Survival and the New Zealand campaign to plant one million trees can be found on www.tfsnz.org.nz


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