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Wellington climbs to top of the tree for Arbor Day – as Ninjas get planting

Wellington's Otari Forest

Wellington will celebrate Arbor Day next week at the top of the tree in the forest canopy cover stakes – and with plenty of plans to extend that lead over other New Zealand cities.

Recent research shows canopy cover in Wellington is 47.5%, compared to 39% for Auckland and 21.9% for Christchurch.

Councillor Peter Gilberd, Wellington City Council’s Natural Environment Portfolio Leader, says Wellingtonians should be proud of this result as trees benefit the Capital City in many ways.

“Trees look beautiful, and are habitat for native birds, geckos, weta and plenty of other life. But trees also hold carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce oxygen – a mature tree can produce as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year."

Cr Gilberd is urging Wellingtonians to get out and plant a native tree* in their backyards in the next few weeks. “There’s a good reason Arbor Day is celebrated in New Zealand in early June – it’s the best time of the year in which to plant trees.”

The Council’s Arboriculture Team Manager, Will Melville, says trees have also been proven to add to the liveability of a city, improve mental health, increase property value, hold banks together, block wind and provide shade, and act as giant coolers – deflecting or absorbing radiant energy from the sun.

Arbor Day falls on 5 June every year, coinciding with World Environment Day, and in Wellington marks the start of the revegetation planting season. City Council staff will be working with community groups and schools to plant thousands of native plants in the next few weeks. 

Planting hotspots this winter will include the Town Belt on Mt Victoria, Seton Nossiter Park in Newlands, the Stebbings Valley at Churton Park and many coastal sites.

Learning how to plant a tree correctly is important business, so in preparation for Arbor Day we made a short video featuring three ‘Planting Ninjas’ demonstrating the five steps on how to plant a native New Zealand tree. The video was produced in conjunction with Trees That Count.

Meanwhile, the Two Million Trees project sees Council staff working with community groups to plant 100,000 trees every year, moving towards a target of two million by 2020.

Special City Council-supported events scheduled in the next week or so to mark Arbor Day include:

  • A native tree giveaway this Sunday 4 June at the Harbourside Market on the Wellington waterfront
  • Wednesday 7 June – treeplanting by schoolchildren at Paekawakawa Reserve, Island Bay, 9.30am to 10.30am will be ‘peak planting time’
  • Friday 9 June – Conservation Volunteers NZ and the Rotary Club of Wellington will plant 2500 native plants on the Mt Victoria Town Belt, 9.30am-2pm

* Planters must be aware of the risk of myrtle rust, and Trees That Count recommends anyone planning on planting any species susceptible to myrtle rust (this includes pohutukawa, rata, manuka, be familiar with MPI's latest advice which can be found here).  

For more information please contact:

Cr Gilberd, tel 04 971 2920 or 027 614 1416

Will Melville, Arboriculture Team Manager, tel 021 227 8220

Ali Whitton, City Council Parks, Sport and Recreation Project Specialist, tel 021 227 8608

Alicia Allen, City Council Communications, tel 04 801 4382 or 021 227 8261.