News | 7 July 2021
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Celebrating two million plants

On Wednesday over 100 Council staff and local volunteers came together armed with gumboots and shovels to celebrate planting more than 2 million native plants around the city over the last 20 years.

Two millionth tree planting with Mayor and crew
Mayor Andy Foster joins tree planting crew

This milestone is the result of a team effort from thousands of Wellingtonians committed to creating a greener city for future generations.

The celebratory planting event, on a hillside in Erlestoke Reserve at Churton Park was a success, with many keen helpers on hand including Mayor Andy Foster.

The Mayor says it was a special time to chat with some of the volunteers who make it all possible, and to reflect on the day and ponder what it means for the future.

“Two million plants is a fantastic achievement and an absolute credit to all of the hours put in by volunteers and staff. It simply wouldn’t be possible without the many thousands of hands that have helped with planting over the last two decades.”


Two millionth tree planting on hill

Staff planted more than 5000 native plants on the grassy hillside, including hebes, kanuka, manuka, flaxes, lemonwood and cabbage trees.

Council’s Urban Ecology Team is committed to making conservation easy and meaningful by connecting people, knowledge and landscapes.

Anita Benbrook, Biodiversity Specialist on Native Plants, works hard behind the scenes planning and mapping all the planting sites to connect the efforts across the city. She’s condensed a lot of her knowledge down into two easily digestible restoration planting guides which can be downloaded on our website.

Anita has been with the Council for over 20 years, so she’s been part of the journey to two million plants every step of the way. She’s thrilled with the outcome so far and says the celebration doesn’t mean we’ve reached our destination yet.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to reach this point, but we’re certainly not done yet, we are building a connected urban forest. That’s what we’re here to celebrate today.”

Two millionth tree lunch for crew

The groups and individuals who have contributed over the years are many and varied. From mountain bike groups planting thousands of trees and native plants contributed from community nurseries to collaborative projects such as Forest in the Heart of the City between Rotary, Conservation Volunteers and MPI.

Wellington is fortunate to have inspiring community leaders bringing communities together to deliver environmental outcomes with groups like Te Motu Kairangi, Trelissick Park Group and Southern Environmental Association, amongst many others. These groups make a massive contribution through the work they do, both in terms of environmental restoration and in helping us towards our goal of being a net zero carbon capital by 2050.

The Council recently formed a new environmental partnership with Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington which allows the University to lease 11 hectares of land in Ohariu Valley for 33 years and undertake an annual native tree planting programme to progressively revegetate the site.

Mayor Foster says the project, Growing our Future, is the Council’s first collaboration with the aim of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by establishing new native forest, and complements the long established programme of planting native trees and expanding carbon sinks in the Outer Green Belt.

This partnership will actively engage many Wellingtonians in restoring better ecological connections between Rangituhi/Spicer Forest and the forests on the flanks of Tarikākā (Mt Kaukau), offsetting carbon and generating new research.

Growing our Future is being launched on Thursday 8 July with a native planting day in Ohariu Valley led by Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford and around 100 volunteers from the University community.

“This project will allow us to contribute to regenerating biodiversity in the Outer Green Belt while offsetting carbon, generating new research and providing an opportunity students, staff and alumni to connect with the city.”