Caring for the environment  |  24 Aug 2020

School students from throughout Christchurch are joining forces to help green the red-zone.

The students, with the support of the Eco Action Nursery Trust, have already planted thousands of native trees in part of New Brighton’s red zone and plan to plant 10,000 more next year.

Eco Action Nursery Trust Chair David Newton, who is also head of physics at Christ’s College, says 11 schools are currently involved in the red zone plantings but more are coming on board.

The schools currently involved are: Shirley Boys High, Avonside Girls’ High, Christchurch Girls’ High, Linwood College, Rāwhiti School, Heaton Intermediate, Christ’s College, St Margaret’s College, Rangi Ruru, St Andrew’s College, and Cathedral Grammar.

Mr Newton says the red zone plantings are an opportunity for students to realise the positive impact they can have on the community and the planet through contributing a little bit.

“Our work will grow a forest that will be lasting memorial for their efforts. It demonstrates the power ordinary people have to change our city, our country and the planet by helping mitigate climate change and increasing biodiversity.’’

The native trees and plants used in the red zone plantings are grown from seeds sourced locally by the Eco Action Trust. After the seeds germinate, the students pot the small seedlings in preparation for planting.

Currently the 11 participating schools are potting the 10,000 seedlings that will planted next year. Another 20,000 seedlings are being pricked out in preparation for planting in 2022.

The students are planting about 20 different species of native trees and grasses, including Pittosporum, Ake Ake, Totara, Flax, Carex secta, and Lophomyrtus.

“We’ve selected these plants to provide both habitat and food for native birds and lizards. We want to see more native birds in Christchurch, and this is a huge opportunity to plant a forest that runs as a green spine through the city. The best thing you can do to encourage native bird life back to the city is to plant trees that become a year-round supply of bird food,’’ Mr Newton says.

“Over the next four years we’re going to complete the current area we’re working on, plant the QEII Adventure Park Trail, and start another large block which is currently under negotiation with Christchurch City Council,’’ Mr Newton says.

The students’ final planting for the year is scheduled to take place on Sunday 30 August from 10am to midday. The students will be adding about 1100 plants to an area off Chimera Crescent, New Brighton, and members of the public are welcome to join them.

Chrissie Williams, Chair of Te Tira Kāhikuhiku - the Christchurch Red Zones Transformative Land Use Consultative Group - says it is great to see young people getting involved in the transformation of the red zone.

“Earlier this month Te Tira Kāhikuhiku provided a grant of $20,000 to the Eco Action Nursery Trust to support this wonderful work. We were really impressed by the application which showed how the students raise plants from seedlings, and then organise planting days with their school and the community involved,’’ Ms Williams says.