Encouraging a new generation of conservationists

Leeston Primary pupils planting spring trees. Photo by Adrienne Lomax.

Leeston Primary pupils planting spring trees. Photo by Adrienne Lomax.

Canterbury school children are getting behind a new conservation planting initiative aimed at encouraging kids to get involved in Nature and the environment.

Te Ara Kākāriki co-ordinator, Brooke Turner says local schools have been very enthusiastic about embracing the Kids’ Discovery Plantout Days, which began in 2014 and with funding from Whakaora Te Waihora.

“We held our first planting days in Spring 2014, with two schools planting 1,000 trees; and both pupils and teachers have given us great feedback. The schools have been very willing to commit to the programme long-term.

“That’s great for us because this is all about connecting schools to their local communities and getting them outside to learn about Nature,” says Brooke.

The Kids’ Discovery Plantout project is a collaboration between Te Ara Kākāriki, Enviroschools, Waihora Ellesmere Trust and Lincoln University, working within the Selwyn District to restore native vegetation communities. These areas of native plants will also contribute to creating habitat for fauna and improving waterway health,  in particular Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

 

Leeston Primary pupils enjoying a day out planting. Photo by _Adrienne Lomax.

Leeston Primary pupils enjoying a day out planting. Photo by Adrienne Lomax.

“By working together and streamlining existing projects, we’ll make it easier for schools to incorporate conservation and biodiversity into their curriculums. The aim is to spark curiosity and inquiry in students through learning about the interconnectedness of a native ecosystem and its biodiversity values,” says Brooke.

This autumn (from late April-May), nine schools will take part in plantout days, including twenty children from Lincoln Kindergarten.

“Research has shown that children who spend more time outdoors are better adjusted to do school work and live happier lives, and this project aims to provide schools with an opportunity to learn about Nature and biodiversity through hands-on experience.

“The children are also involved in ongoing monitoring and management of their site, so they’re learning about much more than just trees and planting.”

Brooke hopes to see the Plantout Days continue long into the future and the team is currently working with community groups to secure further support and funding.

David Murphy, Whakaora Te Waihora programme implementation manager says: “It’s amazing what these kids are doing. They’re showing us how it’s done. And as they will be the next generation caring for the Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere, I think the future is in good hands.”