Week 45 – Future forests

We have had an amazing week.  Believe it or not, more surprises to do with flying.

Early last week Matthew got an email from the Air New Zealand Environmental Trust inviting ‘influential bloggers’ to attend a day at the Mangarara Station in the Hawkes Bay to see their tree planting work.  The funny thing is Matthew ignored the email, not realising that they were actually referring to us as ‘influential bloggers’.  So we got an urgent email on Friday asking us to confirm and next thing we knew we had canceled out of work and were flying up to visit ‘the family farm’.  Check them out online they are great.

When we landed we met 7 others including David Farrar from kiwiblog, Carlin Archer of Ecobob fame,  and Ruud Kleinpaste, the ‘Bugman’.  After driving for an hour we arrived at the Station. We met the farmers,Greg and Rachel, who are trying their best to run a productive and sustainable farm.  Its a gorgeous spot with a lake and one of the last stands of mature native forest in the Hawkes Bay.  They approached Air New Zealand Environment Trust for funding to help plant over 100 acres in natives, with the intention of the future forest being used for carbon sequention and as part of a ‘migration corridor’ for birds and bugs between national parks.  Greg and Rachel also see trees as just common sense for the future of farming; making use of marginal, dry land, improving water quality, providing shade for stock and nurturing biodiversity.

When we embarked on our tour of the farm we took buckets with us.  I wondered why, until I saw how dry everything was. The Hawkes Bay is currently undergoing its driest spring since 1914 and some of the seedlings are succumbing – others though are impressively hardy, looking cool and calm amidst stalky dead grass.  Journeying back and forth from the lake with my bucket to the needy ones made me appriciate the huge task of initiating a forest, it also some how filled me with hope, because while we were putting energy into living rubbish free, someone else is putting energy into  biodiveristy and carbon sequention.   I tapped into that elusive power of the ‘disassembled crowd’.  I came up with this phrase a few years ago when pondering the irony of how each one, when isolated can feel unable to make a difference, yet if each one were to come together, an immense, powerful and energetic crowd would result.  The irony is that  the feeling of power is largely symbolic when people stand around together in a crowd and activated when the crowd disassembles, and gets into whatever it is they do. So whether your thing is planting trees, organics, websites, parenting, energy, education, media, fair trade or buying local the trick is imagine yourself as part of this powerful disassembled crowd, which can be hard to do, but spending the day with these seedlings and other inspiring tenacious individuals was a great reminder.

The Air New Zealand Environmental Trust has been set up as an independent entity with funding guaranteed by Air NZ for the next three years.  Basically, when you book a flight online you have the opportunity to either offset your carbon footprint the traditional way, in which a calculation is made as to how much carbon your flight will create thereby providing you with an amount to donate through a Government scheme connected to windfarms, or to donate to the Air NZ Environmental Trust whose first project is supporting Greg and Rachel’s forest regeneration.  The resulting forest will be protected by covenant and the public will have access to it.

There were so many neat things about the day.  I milked the opportunity to talk to Ruud about why there aren’t any native birds in our garden yet, despite the native trees.  Not surprisingly he said that bugs were important and also explained how important organic matter is.  I came home and the first thing I did was go out the the back of our section (where the glasshouse used to be) and spend some time with our very own future forest.  I now have plans to get hold of as much organic matter as possible, leaves, seaweed etc, I can’t wait to see what will happen.

By the way, yes, Air New Zealand did make a donation to the trust to offset our flights for the day. 🙂 Now that I know I can do that I am going to make a donation for my escapade to Timaru last weekend.

5 thoughts on “Week 45 – Future forests

  1. Hi Guys
    Great to meet you when you visited us last week, you are so right about remebering the power of the “disassembled crowd”, we felt empowered by your visit and the others who are taking positive steps to make a better future.
    One correction, it isn’t the worst drought in Hawke’s Bay since 1914, just the driest spring recorded since that year. We got some rain on Friday -the first real rain since August so hopefully there will be more to keep the trees growing!!
    Best wishes
    Greg & Rachel Hart


  2. Speaking of organic matter :-), have you looked into Biodynamics? A good starting point is the movie doco ‘One man, one cow, one planet’, about a kiwi fulla Peter Proctor who’s been doing some fantastic work with independent farmers in India, turning their soil around from dead to living. The biodynamic association of nz probably has some helpful contacts for bulk organic matter, too.


  3. Hi! I saw the Campbell live article about you recently – which reminded me what a fantastic thing you have done this past year! While I haven’t been an avid follower of your progress, I have been aware of you and occassionally logged in to see what you’ve been up to. I was just wondering now that the year is coming to an end do you still intend to keep the blog going? : )

    Thanks heaps for your kind words. We are intending to keep the website going because there is a lot of great information on it that people have contributed to over the year but we might reformat it into an easier to use guide to living rubbish free. As for blogging it probably would be interesting to log how we go once the official challenge is over and life returns to normal with us not being held to account so much for our actions. We might do a monthly blog update. As you can tell these are all thoughts in progress, cheers for stimulating them! 🙂


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