“As kids we were bought up to leave a place better than when we arrived.” says Brett.
Whether it be tidying a tramping hut, filling a wood shed or picking up rubbish on a beach, it’s an outdoors etiquette that most Kiwis follow. That’s partly why New Zealand is such a beautiful country.
“Now we’re looking at the big picture,” Brett says. “To leave the world a better place.”
So it’s natural that Brett Whiteley and Helen Spring would turn their attention to climate change, because the climate has such an impact on the outdoors they love, particularly the snowy mountains and glaciers, our coastlines and rivers.
“The bush is a peaceful place where other worries sort of go away. So we want to support a local project,” explains Brett, “to give back to something local.”
Brett and Helen often mountain bike through Project Rameka to Takaka in Golden Bay. The forest there is owned by a charitable trust for the purpose of growing trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And it now has three popular tracks through it that were built by volunteers.
But the trust recognised that the forest offered even more potential. It entered the forest into the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI). As part of the deal, the trust has agreed with the government to grow trees to absorb carbon dioxide and never log the forest. In return, the government gives the trust carbon credits, which it can sell.
The charitable trust sometimes sells carbon credits to people like Brett and Helen so that they can offset their carbon footprint. Here’s how it works.
Brett went to an online carbon calculator and worked out his carbon footprint for the last year. “It was really simple to do. Once I found the calculator, it only took half an hour.”
Their footprint was only 8 tonnes, which is pretty good.
Then Brett approached Jonathan from Rameka Charitable Trust to cancel 8 tonnes of carbon credits, which cost $200 ($25/tonne).
That then meant that Brett and Helen were carbon neutral for the year. Awesome!
But it gets even better than that.
The charitable trust doesn’t have any management costs (and the government doesn’t charge any kind of tax on the transaction as it wants to encourage New Zealand to meet its international climate agreement targets).
So the trust puts all income from carbon credit sales back into the project. 100% of Brett and Helen’s $200 will be used to enhance the forest at Rameka by looking after trees and controlling pests.
But Brett and Helen went even further. They decided that they wanted something tangible to show for their efforts to ‘give back’. So they decided that they would buy a tree for every report written for Brett’s business (West Wind Projects). That equates to around 100 extra trees a year planted at Rameka.
The end result is that Brett and Helen are no longer part of the climate change problem; they are part of the solution. And the forest at Rameka will be bigger and better every time they ride through it.
Thanks to https://westwindprojects.co.nz/ for supporting the environment.
Brett and Helen and a friend riding the Tour Aotearoa in Northland.