The answer? One small bite at a time..

We all know that climate change is happening, and if you read the research, that we’re the ones causing it.  Like a planet sized elephant, the task of challenging the change seems to be only possible for the governments of huge economies. To continue with the bad puns, we often think that any change we make as individuals would be a veritable drop in the ocean, so many of us slump into abject apathy.

In the June 2016 issue of the FMC Bulletin, Tania Seward spoke about practical steps that tramping clubs could take to do their bit. Ian “Mo” Turnbull from the Upper Clutha Tramping Club read this article, and put a few wheels into motion to help his club do their bit and fight the apathy as well as climate change.



It’s common practice for clubs to encourage cost sharing for transport on official trips: a way of covering the expensive fossil fuels we burn to get us from town to somewhere as yet unspoilt by humanity. But Mo thought that instead of that money going back into the drivers pocket, there should be a way to encourage that money to go toward offsetting the carbon emissions created from the travel.

And the club agreed with him.  Each trip has ‘transport cost’ calculated, and published on the club’s trip list.  The club encourages individuals to add a bit more to their contribution, and for drivers to consider donating all of their repayments to the scheme.

Rather than trying to calculate how many carbon credits were needed, the club approached a local reforestation organisation, so they could put the money into trees around their community.

Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust is a Wanaka community-based native plant nursery that specialises in propagating plants of local origin (Upper Clutha region) and uses these plants for localised native habitat restoration.

At the end of each trip, the drivers are invited to send the carbon offset donations to the treasurer (through internet banking).  After a decent sum builds up, the treasurer sends off a lump donation to Te Kākano, who then use the money to buy trees to plant locally.

The first plantings of native trees and shrubs as part of the Club’s initiative to offset our carbon footprint took place along the Hawea River on Saturday 18th August 2018. Te Kakano had 185 trees and shrubs to go out, along the Hawea River bank downstream from the Camp Hill bridge. The plantings on this riparian strip beside the bike track will form a buffer between the river and potential runoff from an adjacent dairy farm. There was a good turnout of spade-wielding Club members, as well as the usual tree-planting suspects from Albert Town, Hawea and Wanaka. Te Kakano provided their usual good strong Venus coffee, and morning tea courtesy Sailz of Lake Hawea. The Olearia, Kanuka, Totara, Coprosma, and the odd cabbage tree and lawyer should be happy there soaking up CO2 for the next few hundred years.

 Just like a shared trip to the hills, sharing an outdoor task like tree planting with like minded people fosters community spirit and connections. Isn’t that a big part of what Tramping Clubs are all about?

The cost of fuel is a good incentive to be efficient with travel; trip leaders at UCTC take notes on what vehicles the participants have, and try to pick the right ones for each particular trip. Leaders try to keep away from having a big ‘ol 4WD for a trip that departs from the highway, and picking appropriate vehicles so each one is relatively full.  

Mo knows that all this is a drop in the ocean, but it is our drop in the ocean we all share, and one small way of attempting to address the edible elephant in the room.

“Why aren’t all tramping and outdoor clubs doing the same”?