Preserve Planet Earth

In 1990 the President of Rotary International, Paulo Costa, announced ‘Preserve Planet Earth’ as the theme for the year.

Noel Holyoake, from Auckland’s Pakuranga Rotary Club took up the challenge by launching the Trees for Survival  programme, as one of his projects  as District Governor that year.

The aim of the programme was to grow native seedlings to plant on unstable land, to prevent erosion and improve stream flow and water quality, increase native biodiversity and offset carbon emissions. It was also recognized that growing and caring for native trees had significant educational outcomes.

Pakuranga Rotary designed a permanent shade house known as a Plant Growing Unit and established them in three Pakuranga schools. The unit have an irrigation system and can accommodate 1500+ seedlings for a year or more, until they are mature enough to plant out.

The early stages

In 1994 the Trees for Survival Trust Board was established with governance responsibility for  the programme, and by 2000,  63 schools were involved.

As well as environmental restoration, beneficial teaching and learning outcomes developed from the Trees for Survival programme. School students developed horticultural skills together with an appreciation of native trees, their role in maintaining healthy environments and the balance which trees bring to the natural habitat.

Parents and the wider community welcomed the opportunity to become involved as volunteers, by helping students and their teachers to grow plants or assisting on planting days. There is also support from local Councils, local businesses and community groups as well as the landowners whose land is improved by the planting programme. Trees for Survival is a genuine community partnership.

Growth and branching out

By 2002, with a 100 schools participating, some 350,000 trees had been grown and planted by school students and their helpers. The value of the programme was established in the community and the environmental impact clearly demonstrated.

Funding for the programme has come from community groups, especially Rotary Clubs, local businesses or schools themselves.

By  2010, students  celebrated the achievement of a remarkable milestone by planting the one millionth tree within the programme.

After 25 years, Trees for Survival has planted well over 1.5 million trees and is active in 133 New Zealand schools.

We are moving to improve this number, and welcome enquiry.