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Dr. Russ Ballard has a CV of some weight, having been a scientist, senior public servant, and Chancellor of Massey University. He is also a member and past President of the Rotary Club of Wellington.

Last evening he came to talk to the club (and numerous visitors) about the Peace, Remembrance, and Community Forests Trust.

As part of its centenary celebrations, Wellington Rotary decided to start three projects, one of which was the planting of 200,000 trees, which would fit nicely with the government’s ‘billion trees’ employment and climate change initiative. This has since been given further impetus by the report of the Climate Change Commission.

To make it happen, the Peace, Remembrance and Community Forests Trust was formed and Dr. Ballard was appointed chair. The Ministry for Primary Industries gave a project-scoping grant of $70,000 and then a full grant of $1.4M which takes the project through to May 2022. This will enough to reach the target of 200,000 trees planted, and probably many more.

The Trust works with partner organisations throughout the country and has contracted Conservation Volunteers NZ to manage the various sub-projects.

Russ took us through some of the complexities of the project, including the contractual and financial issues. In-kind contributions must be at least 50% of total costs, under the agreement with MPI. It costs about $16 to plant a native tree, to which MPI contributes $6.80 and partners $7.00-9.00. Volunteer labour is assessed at $22 per hour.

Carbon Credits are payable to the Trust at $3.50 per hectare planted, per annum, and will be on-sold to provide funds for more plantings.

This project is a fine example of an initiative exploiting the various skills available within Rotary, with many clubs involved throughout the country. Our own Taupo Swamp/Plimmerton Domain planting and conservation project will contribute 10,000 trees to the total, assisted by the City Council who are providing the young trees at cost.

More information can be found at the website.

Russ Ballard talks about trees - 30 March 2021

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