Each year for at least 15 years, and probably much longer, Trees for Canterbury have been donating hundreds and more recently thousands of plants towards the restoration of Travis Wetland. The Trees for Canterbury annual public planting day in September has become the highlight of our monthly workdays and a welcome celebration of the start of Spring.
Trees for Canterbury has been operational for 28 years and you can read about their inspiring story here.
Each year they have produced 100,000 plants and on average 45,000 of these have been donated to the community. A truly awesome achievement for a flax-roots enterprise.
The September 2018 planting was a special one, as Trees for Canterbury celebrated their millionth donated native plant at Travis Wetland. That is a great honour for the wetland and serves to underline the many thousands of plants Trees for Canterbury has donated to the wetland.
September 15 2018 was a mild and slightly cloudy day to start with. Early risers from Travis Wetland Trust, Trees for Canterbury, friends and volunteers from various organisations buzzed around preparing food and equipment for the big day. The Trust had purchased some new gumboots before the event and these were a very popular loan item for volunteers. Our registration area soon doubled as a shoe minding service as swarms of people of all ages arrived and prepared themselves for action.
It was hard to keep up with volunteer arrivals and we estimate that close to 200 people turned up. All ages were represented and we were pleased to welcome Trees for Canterbury volunteers, a group from Selwyn House School and Canterbury University student volunteers.
After the long walk to our planting site at the southern end of the wetland everyone needed their gumboots to squelch through thick mud and murky water. Planting demonstrations were given by ranger Kenny and we learnt how to use a new type of plant protector made from specially treated cardboard. Hopefully these will perform well for us and reduce the need for plastic combi-guards which, if left too long, can break down and release plastic fragments into soil and waterways.
Trees to be planted had been placed in advance over a large area, mostly between specimens planted last year. It was quite a sight to see so many people planting and we were very pleased that most of the 1000 plants were in the ground before the end of the morning. Ranger John Skilton, with his arm in a sling, was kept very busy moving between groups of planters to take photos of the action. Mayorjoined in and later spoke about the enthusiasm of the long-serving Trees for Canterbury volunteers she planted with.
The day was very special as Trees for Canterbury celebrated donating 1 million trees to our region. Most planters stayed to hear speeches and witness a grove of commemorative trees being planted close to the Beach Road entrance. By then it was lunchtime and a massive barbeque operation ensured that planters did not go home hungry. Two large cakes celebrating the 1 million trees were rapidly consumed too.