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Carbon Credit Trees Planted On Aucklands Eco-tour Farm CREDIT: Coast to Coast Tours

Carbon Credit Trees Planted On Aucklands Eco-tour Farm CREDIT: Coast to Coast Tours

UNIQUE-to-Auckland tree planting project CREDIT: Coast to Coast Tours

Carbon Credit Trees Planted On Aucklands Eco-tour Farm
Wednesday 16 September 2009, 12:15AM
By Coast to Coast Tours
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AUCKLAND

A Native Tree is assigned for every tour done to offset the days tour emissions. This s planted in the Coast to Coast Tours Government Registered Carbon Sink-Tank Forest Reserve on their own farm.

This 50-acre, historic Auckland farm, (it’s just 40 minutes from downtown Auckland), is where tourists get the opportunity to have a Native tree growing in New Zealand because a tree is designated to offset the carbon emissions from their tour. In doing so, it is making this tour a very sustainable and carbon neutral operation, and one which is totally unique to the Auckland region.


The prime objective of owner/hosts Donna & Stuart Hamilton was for tourists to receive more of a "visitor experience" when offsetting carbon emissions. Compared with the usual ‘over-the-counter’ payment method, (should a tour company even do a carbon offset!), the couple wanted their visitors to be more involved with process.
“It’s all very well paying another company for your carbon equivalent offset”, say the Hamilton’s, “but the tourist is not directly involved, (other than paying their money)”.

Elements of Nature, Culture, Conservation and Environmental sustainability are baseline in the Eco-tour, but threaded throughout this, is that of local operation, and re-direction of profits back into the local community.
After gaining these insights, the Hamilton’s compared New Zealand Eco-tours with those from overseas, and were concerned to see just how little emphasis was placed on a company to see if it operated "locally", (especially when New Zealand pay-to-belong quality organisations, such as Qualmark, rated these so called "Eco"-tours). So, with these ideals clearly in place, the couple set about designing their own project that their tourists could be part of. Today (2015) this Native tree planting project is still unique to Auckland tourism, and all parts of Coast to Coast’s operation has a "local" element, with the trees also sourced locally; (actually just 10 minutes away!)
Initially, the concept was for people to buy their own tree, but not every tour party bought a tree; (as it was entirely over to the tourist, with no pressure put on them to do so!). Plantings were done for about 65% of tours, so there was always going to be a shortfall. So, now a tree is assigned for the farm's Forest Reserve for every tour done. This "tree-of-the-day" sees the tourists become joint-custodians.
“People are so interested to learn about sequestration and what we are doing, and are so happy that they/we are offsetting this tour's emissions. They are also excited to have involvement with an ongoing project, as the tree (which gets a numbered tag), say the Hamilton’s.
However, the project has not been an easy exercise for these owner/operator hosts.
“We have gone to great lengths (both in time and money!) to secure Local Government Law to protect the trees and land for perpetuity”, said Stuart, whose family were some of the early settlers at Muriwai, and who have farmed this property since 1922.
“Unfortunately, (and as a result of a good gesture on my family’s part, many years ago when we placed covenants on certain areas of our farm to protect the bush in the gullies), a legal glitch eventuated with our Local District Council. The Local Government Law stated that a covenant could not be placed upon an already covenanted piece of land. “It was such a ridiculous scenario to be in because these original [old] covenants held no weight, and would not have protected hardly anything at all…especially the trees which we were wanting to fully protect! All we were wanting from our Local Government was an upgrade (so-to-speak) of the original covenants to bring them into the 21st century. After much frustration trying to get some sense out of anyone at the Council, we actually debated whether to cease this application altogether and stop the whole project. In hindsight, it would most likely have been the cheaper alternative, because as it eventuated, we had to take the matter all the way to the Environment Court. It wasn’t until January’08 that everything was finalised with the Environment Court finding in our favour, the Hamilton’s reported.
Up until 2009, Coast to Coast Tours had been the only tourism company in their region that had ever attended the annual event TRENZ, (Tourism Rendezvous in New Zealand). In 2008, to celebrate their ‘New Product’ of Native tree planting, the company donated a tree to each Buyer appointment they secured; (around 45 trees in total). Other tree donations have been made over the past years; e.g.; Tree #B60 for Earth Hour, Tree #B90 for Sky Network Country Channel, Tree #B91 Crystal Seas travel, #C09 for Conservation Week 2009, and always, as part of the Coast to Coast Tours cruise boat Shore Excursion group tours, a complimentary tree is included for a group planting, such as the Janet Lanterman Cruise Specialist group.
“It’s a nice inclusion to make for our cruise boat groups”, says Donna, “these folks have been travelling with us as a group for the day and they will not only be part owners of a tree and see its progress later on our website, but know they have contributed to making their shore excursion more sustainable. There are no other tours just 40 minutes from the heart of downtown Auckland where this hands-on experience can be done”.
“With 100 tags in a ‘run’ it’s great to see all the trees that get planted. It’s not only proving to be popular, but it’s something that will be (in years to come), a benefit to the whole local community. It’s certainly cementing our sense of sustainability and custodianship of the area where we live”, the Hamilton’s happily testify.

 

'Coast to Coast Tours' was a finalist in the 2009 Manaakitanga [Hospitailty] Awards for Sustainability with this project.

Established in 2002, the all-inclusive, owner/operated, small group eco-tour company focuses on showing overseas tourists the west Auckland region where the operator’s family has lived since 1922.

‘Coast to Coast Tours’ is Highly Rated on the Tripadvisor review website, and has been awarded Tripadvisor 2011, 2012, 2014 & 2015 Certificate of Excellence Awards and has a 100% rating.






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