This week’s speakers were two club members- past President Bill McAulay and Barry McEwen. They described progress on the Taupo Swamp/Plimmerton Domain restoration project, which is now in its fourth year.
Their title was an old Chinese proverb: ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago’, meaning that the benefits of the project and all the hard work will be best appreciated by our grandchildren’s grandchildren. Trees are like that - they take a long time to grow to maturity.
The project has an interesting history. Taupo Swamp has long been of interest to conservationists and was proudly shown off to the Queen on one of her visits here. “It’s a very nice swamp”, she remarked at the time.
The City Council planted 8,000 trees along the stream in 2018, and Friends of Taupo Swamp planted a further 10,000 trees in the following three years.
Under the Government’s $1Billion regional development programme, it was proposed to plant one billion trees nationally. Rotary NZ saw an opportunity to pursue the 2021 RI environmental focus and obtained funding via a new Peace, Remembrance, and Community Forests Trust. This led to 16 Rotary projects around the country and dovetailed nicely into our already-running project at the Swamp. Rotary is not a co-funder of the project but clubs contribute time and energy locally.
The funding managed by the Trust comes with various criteria attached. These relate to the type and density of the tress and the size and public access of the sites.
The benefits of the planting are significant. The trees will slow down flooding and improve water quality in the stream. Biodiversity will increase and carbon will be locked into the peat below.
Bill and Barry illustrated the locations of the work via maps and photos. The results are already evident, despite unhelpful weather events at times.
In 2022 it is hoped to plant another 5000 trees, with the help of other community groups and the Council.
This is an excellent project for our club. It is part of a national Rotary effort, does not require funds, engages many of our members, raises our profile in the community, and cements our relationship with the Council.