Pohutukawa gift brings carbon promise

01 May 2008

One hundred Pohutukawa trees have been donated to the University's Careers Centre and will be used in the first carbon offsetting exercise run by the University.

The boxed Pohutukawas stand only a foot tall but will eventually grow up to 20 metres in height. A small team from Careers Services and Student Administration joined with the University Environmental Coordinator Lesley Stone and the University's grounds staff to re-pot the Pohutukawas in April. They will be cared for by the University’s grounds staff until they are strong enough to plant, in about 12 months.

Suitable locations are being considered for the trees across the University campuses. Careers and Student Administration staff are enthusiastic about holding a family planting day when the trees are mature.

"Careers Services is very supportive of the work being done by the Environmental Coordinator to reduce the University’s environmental footprint and we are very keen to contribute to reducing this by planting trees and offsetting our carbon," says Senior Careers Consultant Gillian Reynolds.

Dr Stone says the University has a number of initiatives in place to reduce carbon emissions, but carbon off-setting exercises are equally important and are slowly being introduced to the University's environmental programme. The Pohutukawa tree planting exercise will be the first activity officially recorded against our carbon emissions. Dr Stone will work out the amount to be off-set using a standard New Zealand framework.

The trees were donated by law firm Bell Gully during the Law Distribution Day careers fair held in March. Susanne North, HR advisor for Bell Gully's graduate programme, says her firm decided to do away with glossy brochures at the fair and instead gave students boxed Pohutukawa trees. Each tree included a small card directing students to Bell Gully's recruitment website. A remaining 100 trees were donated directly to the Careers Service.

Gillian says Bell Gully's approach reflects a growing demand from graduating students for employers that can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. She notes a prominent Pricewaterhouse Coopers study in Australia which found 74% of graduates factor in corporate responsibility and environmental management when choosing a career and an employer.