Trees That Count makes it easy for businesses to act on climate change

by The Listener / 24 July, 2018

Photo/Sam Stewart.

Acting on climate change is good for business – that’s why local charity Trees That Count is making it easier for Kiwi companies to fund the planting of native trees.

How’s your company faring on the sustainability front? In a world where climate change looms large and customers favour socially responsible companies, giving back makes good business sense.

Kiwi tree-planting charity Trees That Count knows this down to the ground. As New Zealand’s only community marketplace connecting native-tree planters with funders, it counts the number of native trees being planted by groups and agencies, and helps increase this number by encouraging donations.

Recently it launched Tree Registries, a new way for businesses to demonstrate environmental leadership and engage with customers. Any business, group or individual can crowdfund through the charity’s website to donate native trees as part of a promotion, say, or to mark a special occasion such as a wedding or new baby.

Trees That Count communications manager Melanie Seyfort says crowdfunding for a native forest is an idea that resonates with customers and employees alike.

“Tree Registries allow any business, no matter how big or small, to do something meaningful. It touches on climate change, sustainability, biodiversity and local restoration, and you’re assured every tree’s making a difference.”

And that makes a difference to the bottom line – as early as 2002, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study of global chief executives found 70% of the CEOs agreed corporate social responsibility is vital to any company’s profitability.

Working with the tech team that founded givealittle.co.nz, Trees That Count has also launched a Tree Leaderboard. Businesses compete to nab one of the top spots; their tree funding success is then matched to a planting group, and businesses get to see their trees mapped once they’ve been planted.

All donations are used to buy trees that planting groups can apply for to use on community, larger-scale or high-impact projects.

“A school might want to plant 50 trees on its grounds; a farmer restoring part of his or her land might need a few hundred trees; community groups or NGOs such as Conservation Volunteers might need 5000-6000 trees for a special project,” says Seyfort.

SwipedOn, a Tauranga-based visitor management software company with about 20 employees, donates a native tree for every new sign-up it gets. Staff have also helped by planting trees at a Papamoa reserve.

Corporates such as Kiwibank and Z Energy also jockey for position on the Tree Leaderboard. Funding from Kiwibank has given the community trust restoring Ōtamahua/Quail Island, a 56-hectare island in Lyttelton Harbour, 2000 trees for its next planting effort. Z Energy ran a campaign for teenagers getting their driver’s licence, who planted about 500 native trees on Wellington’s Mt Victoria.

Of course, any Kiwi can open his or her own registry. Trees That Count launched a registry for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s new baby, Neve.

It’s encouraging Kiwis to donate to the Trees for Kiwi Babies registry, whether for Neve, or to celebrate any baby that’s special to them.

Set up in 2016, Trees That Count is managed by the Project Crimson Trust in partnership with the Tindall Foundation.

It was recently awarded a grant from the Provincial Growth Fund as part of the One Billion Trees programme to help lead the grass-roots effort for community conservation organisations that are planting native trees.

The charity’s mission is to see 200 million new native trees planted over the next 10 years. Native trees are a gift to our natural environment: they absorb carbon from the atmosphere, are planted to last for decades longer than radiata pines, encourage biodiversity, help restore waterways and reduce soil and rainwater run-off.

“Acting on climate change and conservation within New Zealand is too big for just one organisation. We want to make New Zealanders realise protecting our environment is a job for us all.” 

See Trees That Count for more information.

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