Back in 2011, we realised that to properly look after our coastlines, we need to look inland and stop pollution at its source. If we want clean beaches we also need healthy rivers, and so we looked at what would help improve the quality of our waterways.
In 2014, we reached two major milestones, educating over 100,000 people and motivating more than 30,000 people to get involved with our events. Reaching these milestones sparked an idea and an opportunity – to help people learn from our experiences through a nationwide program of events and training workshops.
Starting in May this year, we embarked on our most geographically ambitious project ever – our ‘Love Your Water’ nationwide tour. Through this project we visited all 16 regions of New Zealand to run training workshops and tree planting events. Love Your Water complements our highly successful ‘Love Your Coast’ program for beaches by motivating people to look after our rivers by learning how to conduct educational presentations and gaining key event management skills using the context of planting trees beside waterways, or ‘riparian planting’.
Waterway tree planting activities benefit the environment in a variety of ways:
- Reduces harmful nutrients (especially phosphorus) entering waterways;
- Reduces sediment in waterways by stabilising river banks;
- Restores habitats for native flora and fauna by improving water quality and providing shade;
- Captures carbon from the atmosphere.
During the nationwide tour in May, almost 250 people received educational training, approximately 15,000 trees were planted, and a lot was learned along the way. The ongoing demand for capacity building projects was clear, as were the benefits for people and water right across this fine nation.
Everyone needs clean water. This event series gave inspired people around Aotearoa the motivation and opportunity to get involved.
Love Your Water is about developing community passion and capacity to protect and restore the waterways we love. It has started a journey for us that has only just begun and we are excited about improving our offering and continuing this outreach work.