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Published: 2008-05-08 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has granted $3700 from its Enviroschools fund to help Thames South School set up a plant growing unit.

The school’s students were inspired to set up the unit after taking part in Environment Waikato’s Rivers and Us education programme in March.

After going on a field trip to compare a pristine stream with an urban stream near their school, they decided to launch their own steam restoration project.

The project will be carried out under the Trees for Survival programme.

Trees for Survival is a national charitable trust promoting the growing and planting of native trees to prevent soil erosion, improve water quality and increase biodiversity.

The school applied for $4328 from Environment Waikato’s Enviroschools Grant Fund for a plant propagation unit, but not all councillors voted to approve it, and some felt a reduced sum was appropriate.

Environment Committee chair Jane Hennebry noted the school hadn’t joined Environment Waikato’s Enviroschools programme and had not tried to raise any alternative sources of funding.

While she fully supported the tree-growing project, she felt the school could have achieved its goals without needing to buy a plant propagation unit.

However, other councillors, including Laurie Burdett, supported the original sum.

“We don't live sustainably now and this is a small contribution toward sustainable living for the future,” she said.

After councillor discussion, a reduced sum of $3700 was approved.

Cr Pat Gregory said the school would need to raise $600-$800 a year to keep the project running, so it was appropriate for the school to demonstrate it could raise some of the money needed to start it off.

This would increase the likelihood of the school community owning the project, boosting the project’s chances of success.

Crs Hennebry and Armstrong voted against granting money to the school until it could come up with a more cost effective proposal.

However the majority of councillors were in favour of awarding money to the school, so the reduced grant of $3700 was approved.