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28/06/2021 11:35am

When seven-year-old Sarah Choat planted trees in a Waihi reserve as part of her school’s involvement in Hauraki District Council’s Millennium Forest project back in 2000, she never imagined that 21 years later it would play a significant role in establishing national standards for carbon credits.

Waihi Millennium Forest's national significance

Now towering over her, the forest’s diverse range of native plants on the corner of State Highway 2 and Heath Street Waihi turned out to be just what the nationwide Trees that Count research project needed.

The goal of the two-year project was to confirm how much atmospheric carbon dioxide is taken up by trees, grasses and other plants through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in trunks, branches, foliage, roots and soils (called carbon sequestration). The site’s location near a busy state highway, and the fact that researchers could verify exactly how old the trees were, made it perfect for the trial.

Data sets national carbon credits standards

Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams says the Government used the information gathered to help set its policy for carbon credits.

“It’s well known that planting trees is one of the best ways to offset carbon dioxide emissions, but this research has helped determine how much carbon is absorbed and how many trees are needed,” he said.

The Millennium Forest is one of many tree-planting projects we've undertaken in collaboration with groups such as HELP (Habitat Enhancement Landcare Protection), Waikato Regional Council’s Enviroschools programme; community volunteers and our dedicated parks and reserve team.

Council secures vital funding for community groups

This month alone, Waikino School students and volunteers planted 1790 new plants at the Waikino Domain and volunteers and students from Paeroa schools put 350 trees in the ground alongside the Aorangi stream. To help fund the projects, we secured $10 000 from the Waikato Regional Council’s Environmental Initiatives Fund, on behalf of Paeroa’s Streamcare and the Waikino Domain Committee.

Our dedicated team also provide support in the form of equipment, plants, labour and maintenance for these important community led initiatives. It's a win win for the district and the environment.

From small things

For Sarah, the opportunity to participate in the Millennium Forest project was a reminder that you’re never too young to make a difference.

“I know this new generation of students will be as proud and amazed as I am at the positive impact their efforts will have on the environment. It’s made a tree hugger out of me!”

Millenium Forest Tree hug

Sarah Choat with one of the trees her school group help plant in the Millennium Forest in 2000.

Below:

Sarah holding a photo taken of her with the tree she planted!

Sarah Choat surrounded by Millennium Forest

The next generation  

Waikino School students April Telekolio (far right), and her buddies Lorreta Cabaret- Ford and Maddison Siemonek, were as proud as punch with their efforts. They planted 40 trees between them at the recent community planting day in the Waikino Domain.

Planting   40 plants between them!