Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand’s Forest Service and Trees the Count are thrilled to give every primary school in Aotearoa the opportunity to claim five free native seedlings to plan on their school grounds. The trees can be added to existing plantings, form part of a new outdoor learning area, or guild students in curriculm-based inquiry learning.

A new Arbor Day initiative will see more than 2,400 primary school children get the chance to plant native trees in their communities. Every primary school will be offered five native trees to plant, through the new Trees for Schools programme.

Schools who wish to be part of the Arbor Day initiative should register an interest before 30 June through a new portal on the website of Trees That Count. Trees will be delivered to schools from July onwards, along with a poster and educational material to help with tree care and maintenance.

A new Arbor Day initiative announced by Forestry Minister Stuart Nash last week. Says Mr Nash, “We want to bring back the celebration of Arbor Day across the country as part of our push towards a sustainable and low-carbon future. Tree planting is one of the best ways to slow the effects of climate change, restore and enhance the environment, and improve biodiversity.

“We particularly want to encourage children to adopt Arbor Day, as future decision-makers. The trees we plant and the actions we take now will influence their lives. By planting trees, they learn more about the importance of the environment for our way of life, culture, and economy.

“Native birds and insects thrive in our indigenous forests, and tree planting protects waterways and prevents erosion in rural and provincial New Zealand. Exotic trees also contribute around $7 billion in annual export revenue – the third largest primary sector by value.

“Forestry and wood processing create jobs, training and skills opportunities and keeps up the momentum of economic recovery in our regions. Greater use of wood in our buildings and innovative products and industries can also support our drive to a low-carbon future.

“Whether you’re a student, teacher, a farmer, landowner, community group or iwi, or a gardener supporting your local nursery, I would like to encourage every New Zealander to get involved and plant trees this Arbor Day,” said Stuart Nash.

The cost of the initiative is estimated at around $150,000, which will be met from within the baseline budget of Te Uru Rākau/NZ Forest Service. It is estimated around 10,000 native trees could be planted this year as a result of the programme.