Ruud Kleinpaste: Planting trees to restore our planet

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sat, 25 Jul 2020, 11:47AM

Ruud Kleinpaste: Planting trees to restore our planet

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sat, 25 Jul 2020, 11:47AM

One Billion Trees

Isn’t it time we re-focused on restoring our Planet in an attempt to undo what we stuffed up so far?

There are a couple of key issues we (humanity) are facing:

1) Loss of Biodiversity (and habitat) – the crucial balancing act that makes our planet operate; we live in a biological world, whether you like it or not; if you want to find out how this works: try not going to the loo for a week and you’ll know all about it
2) Carbon imbalance – Nature does not use fossil sunlight… it operates on current sunlight
3) The idiocy of “economic thinking” with “growth at all cost” and “competition”
4) The stupendous increase in Human population – all entering the rat race and losing connection with the operations manual of planet Earth.

One Billion Trees – It’s a start and deals with the first two points. Led by Te Uru Rakau (the Ministry of wooden sticks) and encouraging land-owners to plant natives and exotics in a hell of a hurry for employment, carbon sequestration and to optimise land use (all easily measured in an economic system). Again: it’s a start!

Project Crimson set up “Trees that Count” to measure the progress in the form of a self-reporting data base but only for Native trees planted. Its vision is to plant 200 million NATIVE trees (not pine trees on carbon farms that likely end up on beaches as “slash”)

Trees that Count also created a “Market Place” https://grow.treesthatcount.co.nz/treepool where “funders” can buy trees and donate them to the “pool”, where planting groups can obtain them to enhance our landscape and biodiversity.

Funders can be you and me (birthday presents!) or huge companies that “get it” and want to assist in restoring our Aotearoa. From 2016 to April 2020 Trees that Count has logged 31.3 million native trees planted – not bad eh? Survival rates are not bad either, according to a recent report.

Practical example of how all this planting works in the longer term

There are many examples I can use, but I prefer my own neighbourhood: the Halswell Quarry, here in Christchurch. When it became a quarry no more, people started planting whole areas of the quarry. Since 1997, we estimate some 150,000 native trees have been put in the ground and it really starts to show.

The quarry is a fabulous multi-use “park” in South-West Christchurch City: mountain bike tracks, walking trails, conservation ponds with eels, fresh water mussels and breeding sites for waterbirds. Dog exercise areas are very popular, as are the picnic sites, coffee cart and the occasional outdoor events in the quarry site itself. Not surprisingly, this Quarry park was absolutely full of locals (and not-so-locals) during the lockdown! The local Halswell Primary school often has field days out, looking for insects, birds, historical topics and athletics events.

There’s a group of enthusiasts that fly model aeroplanes on a roughly-mown strip near the horse riding paddock and orienteering is a big gig, judging from the number of secondary school students that look “lost” in the sheep’s paddocks. Bird watchers are becoming more and more common too. Predator-Free has a great impact too.

For kids, coming close to sheep and their lambs (August/September) is one of those very first rural experiences of life. And planting trees on a sunny Saturday morning is a community activity that brings “generosity” and “good citizenship” back into the profile of humanity. It also teaches everybody that planting a variety of eco-sourced species, based on plant succession is the way nature reproduces itself in a forested habitat.

The practical examples of these local restoration projects touch a heck of a lot of elements we need to bring back into education and social behaviour. For the past few years there’s a small group of nature nerds and bird aficionados who set up mist nets and catch the local avifauna to “band” them with a shiny metal ring. This is now not just a training ground for new bird banders, but also a small research project that tells us many interesting facts about the local birds.

This planted quarry park is one of the best outdoor classrooms you can think of. You’re immersed in nature, inhaling the oxygen, re-connecting with generosity and learn how nature does things.

And it all started with a few trees!

Go to: https://grow.treesthatcount.co.nz/activity  

And for Halswell Quarry Planting Days:

https://ccc.govt.nz/parks-and-gardens/volunteer-in-parks/volunteer-events/halswell-quarry-park-planting-days