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Schools take environment to heart


Schools take environment to heart

For immediate release: Thursday 1 June 2006

A quarter of the Bay of Plenty’s schools are really taking the environment to heart.

About 40 schools, involving several thousand students, have committed to a national initiative which encourages a whole school approach to environmental education.

Coordinated regionally by Environment Bay of Plenty, the Enviroschools programme has proved “a resounding success”, says regional coordinator Esther Mae. “It’s going extremely well. It has a fantastic future here.”

Ms Mae says momentum has built strongly over the past four years. “Schools are recognising that the environment is not something separate – it is an integral part of school life.”

Many schools are now taking it to a new level. “They are discovering it’s not just about worm farms and recycling. They are entrenching the philosophy into their Board of Trustee policies and allocating budget for it. They are looking seriously at operational practices, like how they use water and energy. Schools are strengthening their links with the local community. Some are now joining local care groups so students are actively helping out with environmental initiatives.”

The Bay of Plenty was one of the first regions in New Zealand to pick up the Enviroschools programme. Eight out of 11 regional councils now support the initiative, which recently received a $4.6 million boost from Central Government.

Schools can make different levels of commitment. The most intensive is a three-year programme which supports schools to work independently towards sustainability. As part of that, students plan, design and take action to create a sustainable school environment.

Two high schools and two intermediate schools are signed up for the programme, plus more than 30 rural and urban primary schools.


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