Too Precious to Lose: Celebrating our Forests

Kahikitea Forest, West Coast NZ. Image: Sue Jane

Tuesday 21 March marks International Day of Forests. The 2022 theme is

“Too Precious to Lose”

which I think we can all agree is a very good theme! We often take trees, forests and natural areas for granted, but without them we simply wouldn’t survive. Trees are truly amazing (a word I’ll use often in this post!) 🙂

Here are some fun facts about our amazing trees:

  • Forests influence and slow climate change mainly by affecting the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • An average mature tree can absorb almost 36% of rainfall it comes in contact with.
  • Forests are helpful in improving water quality by extracting pollutants through tree roots.
  • More than ¼ of all medicines we use originate in rainforests.
  • The largest tree-dwelling mammal is the orang-utan.
  • The General Sherman Giant Redwood Tree is the largest in the world at 1,487 cubic metres. A coast redwood from California is the tallest tree in the world with an incredible height of 115.61 metres. It is called Hyperion.
  • Forests are home to 80% of the world’s land-based biodiversity – the variety of living things in any given place – with more than 60,000 tree species alone.
  • Forests cycle water between the soil and the atmosphere and help make rain
  • Trees also produce oxygen for us to breathe.

Weird but true!

Trees actually talk to each other! Not in the way we think about ‘talking’, but scientists believe there’s enough evidence to show that there is communication going on in the forests. Scientists have nicknamed this phenomenon “The Wood-Wide Web“! Here’s an interesting vid that explains all:

How can I help save the trees?

You can help protect our forests. When you visit a forest be sure to keep all of your rubbish with you, keep on the tracks to avoid damaging plants, roots, and spreading diseases and get your hands dirty by volunteering to plant, weed, or control pests.


Wellington City Libraries have lots of resources to help you with your quest to protect our trees. Follow these simple steps on our website to find out more:

1. Click on Kids’ Search from the search drop-down on the Wellington City Libraries landing page

 

2. Scroll down to “Explore New Zealand topics” and find “Nature”. Click on each button to find lots of library resources that have been gathered together by our librarians. Enjoy!


Trees are AMAZING! Why not explore further with these resources from our catalogue:

The wonder of trees / Davies, Nicola
“Did you know that there are over 60,000 tree species? This stunning book explores the extraordinary diversity of trees and forests – the lungs of our earth. A glorious celebration of trees by non-fiction specialist Nicola Davies, illustrated by rising star Lorna Scobie, creators of the beautiful THE VARIETY OF LIFE. There is something to delight on every page with fascinating facts and figures. This exquisite book will encourage children to treasure the world’s biodiversity and help to stop it slipping away.” (Catalogue)
Deep roots : how trees sustain our planet / Tate, Nikki
“Presents facts about trees, explaining how they maintain a vibrant ecosystem and provide food, fuel, and shelter for people across the globe.” (Catalogue)
Trees : kings of the forest / Hirsch, Andy
“In Trees we follow an acorn as it learns about its future as Earth’s largest, longest-living plant. Starting with the seed’s germination, we learn about each stage until the tree’s maturation, different types of trees, and the roles trees take on in our ecosystem.” (Catalogue)
The wisdom of trees : how trees work together to form a natural kingdom / Judge, Lita
“A lyrical and informational nonfiction picture book that tells the story of trees and the hidden ecosystems they create” (Catalogue)
The giving tree / Silverstein, Shel
“A young boy grows to manhood and old age experiencing the love and generosity of a tree which gives to him without thought of return. Suggested level: junior, primary.” (Catalogue)

Earthkids: New Zealand conservation stories, activities and games by Andrew CroweEarthkids : New Zealand conservation stories, activities and games / Crowe, Andrew
“Describes efforts by New Zealanders to protect the environment and wildlife. Includes puzzles, quizzes and projects such as making a bird feeder, paper, a mobile and more. Suggested level: primary, intermediate, junior secondary.” (Catalogue)

Conservation Week 2021: 4 – 12 September

Conservation Week: Get involved

Conservation Week 2021. Image courtesy of Department of Conservation.

Conservation Week 2021 is from Saturday 4 September – Sunday 12 September.

The theme this year is a simple one – “Take a moment to notice nature”.

So get outside and feel connected to the world. It can be as simple as stopping to listen to the birds singing, helping in the garden, walking with the whānau or taking your dog for a walk and noticing the natural world all around us.

But of course, if you’re still at Alert Level 3 or 4, you’ll need to stay in your bubbles and stay safe. BUT there are still loads of activities to help you learn and feel comfortable in nature that you can do at any alert level:

Kids Outside: You can enjoy nature wherever you are. From your window, balcony, backyard or on your local neighbourhood walk.

40 ka pai things to do outside: Getting outside makes us feel good. Rain or shine, there’s heaps of fun you can have right outside your backdoor. From playing hide and seek, to watching the stars and jumping in puddles. Check out the activities in the above link.

Birdwatching with the family: Birdwatching is a great way to discover what is truly special about our natural world and our country. Taking time to get to know the birds around us is a wonderful way to build respect and compassion for nature and all living things. Here’s a handy 10 common birds in your area link to get you started.

Gardening for kids: Getting outside and getting your hands dirty in the soil is so good for you! It also teaches you a love of nature and the environment, where food comes from, how to care for plants, and the joy of reaching a goal. Here are some ideas to get you outside and in the garden.

And here are a couple of nature-based ideas where you can still enjoy the great outdoors, even if you can’t get there in person:

Digital Treasure Hunt Competition: Take a moment to discover nature virtually this Conservation Week with DOC’s Digital Treasure Hunt. The competition is open now and closes 5 pm on 9 September 2021.

Virtual Hub: Take a moment to notice nature:  Enjoy a virtual walk and soak in the views on the Kepler Track, or experience kākāpō and erect-crested penguins through the eyes of DOC rangers and scientists.


Wellington City Libraries have lots of e-resources that you can access right now to help with your nature exploration. Here’s just a few to get you started:

Overdrive cover 101 Small Ways to Change the World, Lonely Planet Kids; Aubre Andrus (ebook)

It’s hard to believe that you could change the world, but it’s true! We’ll show you loads of awesome ways to help out family, friends, yourself and the planet – and show how you’re never too young to make a big difference. Includes random acts of kindness, craft projects, energy-saving ideas and much more.

101 Small Ideas to Change the World is a practical, fun and creative book to inspire you at home, school and in your local community and beyond! Remember, all big ideas start with just one person who decides to do things differently. You could be that person. (Overdrive description)


Overdrive cover Outdoor Science Lab for Kids, Liz Lee Heinecke (ebook)

Learn physics, chemistry, and biology in your own backyard! In Outdoor Science Lab for Kids, scientist and mom Liz Heinecke has created 52 family-friendly labs designed to get you and yours outside in every season.
From playground physics to backyard bugs, this book makes it fun and easy to dig into the natural sciences and learn more about the world around you (Overdrive description)


Overdrive cover Wild In the City, Lonely Planet Kids;Kate Baker (ebook)

Discover the secret lives of more than 30 extraordinary creatures that share our cities. From red foxes sneaking rides on London buses to leopards prowling the backstreets of Mumbai, this book explores the clever ways animals have adapted to the urban environment and explains how you can help protect our wild neighbours.

Crammed with buildings, traffic and people, urban spaces are the last place you’d expect to see wildlife. But all kinds of animals live alongside us in the hidden corners of our towns and cities – from teeny ants living under pavement cracks to pick-pocketing monkeys and spotted hyenas being fed by locals. (Overdrive description)


Overdrive cover Square Foot Gardening with Kids, Mel Bartholomew (ebook)

Mel Bartholomew’s top-selling Square Foot Gardening books have made his revolutionary garden system available to millions of people.
In Square Foot Gardening with Kids, Mel reveals his tips, tricks, and fun projects in one of his most cherished pursuits: teaching youngsters to build and grow a SFG of their own.
The easy geometry of the gridded box breaks the complex world of gardening into digestible bites for enthusiastic young learners, and the sequence of tasks required to grow plants from seeds is repeatable and reassuring.
Kids learn many valuable life lessons when tending their own garden — such as the importance of following instructions and doing your chores, basic skills like counting and water conservation, and learning to appreciate the nature of food and why it is important to respect it. Most importantly though, they learn that growing your own food is both fun and rewarding. (Overdrive description)


Overdrive cover Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Greening Up Spaces, Megan Kopp (ebook)

Creative readers with a green thumb and an eye for design will be inspired to create their own gardening and landscaping projects in unique spaces. From vertical gardens to urban parklets, this title will motivate readers to “green up” spaces in their communities in a way that promotes environmental awareness, collaboration, and group planning. Profiles of innovators and their green creations encourage readers to embrace their own ideas and create their Maker visions. (Overdrive description)



“When Papatūānuku thrives, we all thrive.” 

Department of Conservation

 

Bird Watchers, Get Counting: It’s Bird Survey Time!

Manaaki Whenua | Landcare Research is running its annual Garden Bird Survey right now (from 26 June – 4 July). To participate you need to spend 60 minutes  in your garden, local park or reserve recording the birds you see at any one time between 26 June – 4 July.

To take part, go to gardenbirdsurvey.landcareresearch.co.nz. There are heaps of resources on this website including helpful pictures of the birds you are most likely to see, printable tally sheets, quizzes, competitions, and how to enter as a school group, if that’s your jam!

Taking part is easy:

  1. Select your garden, park, or school
  2. Choose one day from 26th June to the 4th July
  3. Look and listen for birds for ONE hour.
  4. Record the HIGHEST number of a bird species observed at one time.
  5. Submit your survey results below.

Your survey results will be analysed by the Landcare Research scientists. This will help them know and understand things like how our bird populations are changing over time, and keep an eye on any population trends (good and bad).

Fantail 1So do your part to help care for our wonderful birdlife! Did you know that at the end of Day 1 alone

  • 282 Surveys were submitted
  • 12,187 Birds counted
  • 68 Species counted
 And if you still have some questions, jump onto the FAQ page on the website to answer the ones you have, and ones you hadn’t even thought about around all things birds + survey.


Book Jacket for: A bird in the hand : keeping New Zealand wildlife safeBook Jacket for: Discovering New Zealand birdsBook Jacket for: NZ birds

Wellington City Libraries have loads of books and resources about New Zealand birds.

Or you could browse the Non-Fiction shelves under the Dewey Number of 598.


Other useful websites:

Birds New Zealand

Department of Conservation

Forest and Bird

New Zealand Geographic

Become an ornithological expert and help understand and protect Aotearoa’s wonderfully diverse birdlife.


 

Wonders of the World!

There are so many awesome things to discover about our world.

The land we live on, the animals that share it, different cultures, ancient times, volcanoes, earthquakes and World Wars. Not to mention us!  Now that is a very interesting and complicated topic.

The National Geographic Kids website is a great place to visit and just have fun discovering all sorts of interesting things about our planet and everything on and in it.  We can even go a little bit further and explore space and beyond. For instance I discovered that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on all the beaches on Earth. That’s at least a billion trillion. Wow – amazing.  I also learnt that a new skyscraper goes up in China every 5 days and that all the blood in my body travels through my heart every minute.

I love this website – there are so many great and interesting things to discover.

You also might like to check out these great books on some of the very special places and interesting things about our world.