Million Metres Streams project surging along

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Nearly six months since its launch, the new crowd-funding website Million Metres Streams project (MMS) has funded 2,156 metres of riparian restoration. That represents approximately 19,404 plants across two fully-funded projects, and one project around a third of the way to full funding.

The website was launched to give all New Zealanders a way to help improve the health of New Zealand’s lowland waterways, a high percentage of which are too polluted to swim in or harvest from.

“We are delighted that we have achieved these results in a relatively short time,” says Claire Warren, the project’s communications manager. “It proves that the concept works, and that New Zealanders are galvanised in their resolve to do something about our waterways.”

Three projects planting this winter

“All three stream projects, in Gisborne, Manawatu and Southland regions, will be planting trees this winter”, says Claire. “We expect the third project in Gisborne to reach full funding soon,” she adds.

Both in highly-erodible catchments, the Gisborne and Manawatu projects are part of enlightened and ongoing conservation work by the farmers. The Southland project is in a gently sloping catchment which lacks tall vegetation. ”Planting these areas will help stop sediment and phosphates getting into the water and provide shade and habitat for fish and birds,” says Claire.

Landowner Curwen Hare and Westpac’s Karen Silk at the Manawatu project. Photo: Emily Dowding-Smith

Koura found in the Manawatu landowner’s stream. Photo: Emily Dowding-Smith

Donors from unlikely quarters

Aside from individuals wanting to help clean up our waterways, substantial donations have come from individuals and small businesses voluntarily offsetting their carbon emissions. “Apart from sequestering carbon, offsets through MMS also contribute to biodiversity and waterway health,” explains Claire. Although offsets are unaccredited, the number of metres of riparian planting donated and GPS co-ordinates of the stream are documented for donors.

Even corporates can participate while satisfying their Corporate Social Responsibility objectives and raising their environmental profiles. Westpac, the first corporate sponsor, contributed $10,000 (over half) towards the Manawatu project, giving the bank a springboard for PR activity at the recent Central Districts Field Days.

Website upgrade planned

While things are ticking along nicely for MMS, plans are afoot for improvements to website. The next stage is to allow donors to choose the project they contribute to. Currently projects are funded consecutively so donors contribute only to the live project. Equally important, the team plans to have all New Zealand regions represented on the website, so that communities from around the country will have a local project to support.

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