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Encouraging a new generation of conservationists

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27 February 2015

In 2015 Canterbury school children got to experience a 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 Plant-out Days, which began in 2014 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 Plant-out 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.

“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.

During autumn 2015 (from late April-May), nine schools took part in Plant-out days, including 20 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 Plant-out 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.”