Trees for Survival and Your Rotary Club

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In 1988, Cyclone Bola, created some of the heaviest rainfall for a single storm in New Zealand’s history. Many regions received their annual rainfall totals in a week; Gisborne recorded 917mm (over a yard!)

Noel Holyoake

While he was District Governor, Rotary Club of Pakuranga member Noel Holyoake recalled an environmental programme he had seen operating successfully in Australia; he thought if he could bring it to New Zealand a difference could be made. So with the help of the Rotary network, Trees for Survival was born.

It is an educational programme where students grow on native tree seedlings in special plant growing units, and learn about the part plants play in maintaining our natural environment, so that as adults they will not repeat the costly environmental mistakes of their forebears.

The planted trees serve to improve water quality and regulate water flow, combat erosion, increase biodiversity and offset carbon usage.

The Trees for Survival programme is a community partnership.
Schools work with their communities, councils, landowners, supporting organisations and commercial sponsors. Local Rotary Clubs are to the fore in helping the schools pay an annual fee.

But Rotary is more to Trees for Survival than paying the annual fee. Many Rotarians spend time at their local school when seedlings are being pricked out, and are a huge support to the Trees for Survival Field Officers and the teacher in charge of the project at the school.

And on the days when the young trees are old enough to be planted onto a permanent site, it is often Rotarians who provide the transport – and their time, spades in hand, gumboots on; their enthusiasm is infectious.

This programme can be national, and has the potential to make an even greater difference to New Zealand’s famous natural environment. We owe it to future generations to make this a high priority project.

Recently, I saw a small tin storage shed which had been donated by the school’s Trees for Survival sponsor, but it lay as a flat pack next to the plant growing unit – it just needed two able Rotarians with a battery drill to assemble it – that’s the type of support Rotary can provide.

Trees for Survival National Manager, Roger Milne: “This is a Rotary programme of immense benefit, and I ask New Zealand Rotary Club’s throughout our green land not to hesitate when a Trees for Survival Field Officer asks you for help.”

This message comes with a million “thank you’s” to all those Rotarians who have given their time, energy and enthusiasm over the last 23 years. Long may it continue – New Zealand will be a better place to live thanks to your effort.

And thanks too, to Noel Holyoake for his vision in founding the Trees for Survival Trust.

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