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Source: University of Canterbury

26 May 2022

Holes were dug and worms were wondered over as Ilam Primary School children planted native trees on the University of Canterbury’s (UC) campus next to their school yesterday.

“There were big smiles and the students really enjoyed planting trees and finding worms, which was a bit distracting. They were fascinated,” UC Biodiversity Co-ordinator Emily Arthur says.

Despite the intriguing insect life, 125 seven- and eight-year-olds planted 340 trees next to the Haere-roa stream.

UC groundskeepers Darryl Cone and Richard O’Dowd, with landscape ecologist Adjunct Professor Colin Merck, advised and assisted the planting efforts. UC students from Envirosoc, an environmentally focused student club, and the Student Volunteer Army helped dig holes and support the younger landscapers.

The diverse mix of mataī, kahikatea, totara, kōwhai, harkeke, makomako and other native plants that were planted will attract more birds to campus and provide food for them.

The schoolchildren also placed tree disks on the lawn so they can see which bugs take up residence underneath.

The day before the planting, Arthur talked to the schoolchildren about the importance of native trees and shrubs and was impressed with their knowledge. The university planting day was part of nature and science modules the children are studying this year. 

“Teachers were really happy to see the kids out having such a good time planting and adding to their knowledge through hands-on experience,” Arthur says.

Ilam Primary School teacher Nigel Marsh described it as a wonderful learning opportunity for the children. “They were so proud of themselves.”

“I thought the session was a lot more than just a planting session. The connection that our students made with the UC students was priceless.”   

The planting was funded by The West Melton Zone Committee and connects to previous planting on UC’s Ilam campus as part of the university’s aim to increase natural habitats for native birds, lizards and insects on the UC grounds.

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