Coast to Coast – The People Path to Sustainability

Coast to Coast – The People Path to Sustainability
  • Written by
  • Dee Ellwood

Nowadays, volunteering isn’t bounded by set times or places. On any given weekday, weekend or month, you’ll find staff and volunteers for New Zealand’s largest coastal protection charity, Sustainable Coastlines, planting trees, picking up rubbish, educating students, running team events, or analysing data countrywide. And, their results speak for themselves. To-date, they have motivated over 90,000 people to remove nearly 1.5 million litres of rubbish and plant 100,000+ trees. They have also directly educated over 200,000 people with presentations.

In June alone, Sam Judd, co-founder and waterways leader, led 20 Hawke’s Bay schools in a 6,000+ tree planting event, before heading to the Waikato to plant over 13,000 trees with Tangata Whenua, school students, the Black Sticks Hockey team, community work offenders and volunteers. Earlier this year, in the Bay of Plenty’s Maketu, Sustainable Coastlines led 269 people, restoring love to an epic reconstructed wetland project.

Local people, local solutions

“In order to have a real environmental impact, our work has to go beyond just asking for hands to plant trees and pick up rubbish,” says Sam. “We know that the best way to bring about change is through capacity development. It’s local people, with local solutions that will ultimately aid global problems.“The Rena oil spill is a good example of this, this was the first-in-the-world example of an official oil spill response using volunteers. We deployed over 8,500 Kiwi volunteers – countrywide – everyone was prepared to do whatever it took to help.”

Igniting change beyond traditional means

“It’s about being socially enterprising. Through educational presentations in schools, corporate events or encouraging people to step up and become one of our citizen scientists,” he explains.

Citizen scientist? The initiative – backed by the Ministry for Environment and Department of Conservation – calls on Kiwis to contribute to data for New Zealand’s first national beach litter database.“It’s a long-term commitment – we have over 108 sites. We want people from all over to monitor their local beach and create open-access data that can help people make better decisions around best solutions for that area,” says Sam.

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