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New Zealand is well-endowed with organisations large and small, all enthusiastic and extremely well-intentioned in working to protect, restore and improve the natural environment. Inevitably there are too many under-resourced conservations groups chasing the same funding pools, which are incapable of supporting all applicants, and increasingly funders are challenging the long-term viability of programmes. The demand for support resources is almost insatiable and the solution is for organisations to partner with others to make their efforts more effective, more scalable and more self-sufficient.
It is critical organisations focus on outcomes rather than risk, as can happen, being caught up in an inward-looking or empire-building mind-set. Equally they must engage with one another at the grass roots level.
The TfS programme has proved itself outward-looking, scalable and results driven. The multi-faceted nature of the programme operates with positive outcomes for all involved as its central focus.
It is critical, in the face of this demand for resources whether corporate, local or central government, community or volunteered, that the scope for co-operative partnerships committed to the efficient integration of effort and sharing of resources is carefully reviewed. The way ahead must almost inevitably be driven by significantly increased co-operation between planting groups.
Increasingly TfS is demonstrating this vision of the way ahead. This outreach approach sees TfS working in various ways with many bodies to achieve maximum return on investment and growing impact on the health of the New Zealand environment. Relationships operate both informally and officially in many ways – for example with the Sustainable Business Network, many Councils and Territorial Authorities, Waikato River Clean-Up, Te Awaroa, Enviroschools, Genesis Reforestation, Wai-care as well as people like community land-care groups, retirement villages and prisons.
By engaging schools, local bodies, community groups and landowners TfS aims to protect our natural heritage by planting trees to prevent erosion, improve water quality, restore biodiversity and mitigate carbon in the atmosphere. The TfS Charitable Trust achieves this aim by increasing children’s awareness of the importance of caring for the environment – a goal achieved through hands-on propagation and planting of trees to preserve at risk habitats.
Founded in 1991, TfS has now planted well over 1,000,000 trees and currently works with over 165 schools planting an average of 70,000 seedlings annually with the help of over 5,000 students and their communities. With the support of business and community sponsorship, schools are provided with the equipment, seeds and educational material to propagate native plants and trees. The seedlings are planted by the students with the help of parents, community groups and volunteers on at risk land.
This year trees have been planted on hill country farms, riparian margins in parks and dairy farms and on regenerating forest margins – even plantings to save endangered plants. The outcome is the preservation of our natural heritage for the enjoyment of future generations of New Zealanders.
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