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Celebrating New Zealand Communities this World Environment Day

It’s World Environment Day on 5 June!

Designated by the United Nations (UN) to raise worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment, this yearly event is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.

This year’s theme is “Ecosystem Restoration”, and we’re celebrating the communities across Aotearoa New Zealand who are working tirelessly to protect and restore our unique wildlife and natural places.

The Importance of Healthy Ecosystems

Ecosystems support all life on earth.  Our forests, rivers, oceans and soils provide us with the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and protection from disease. They are crucial to our physical and mental health, culture, and livelihoods. Healthy, thriving ecosystems are also our greatest ally in the fight against climate change — ensuring that our whenua (land) and moana (ocean) can continue to sustain us for years to come. The healthier the ecosystems are, the healthier the planet, and it’s people.

But here in Aotearoa and all over the world, ecosystems face massive threats – forests are being cleared, rivers and lakes polluted, wetlands drained, coasts and oceans degraded and overfished.

There has never been a more urgent need to restore our ecosystems than now.

World Environment Day 2021 will launch the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aims to halt, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems across the planet. The UN Decade runs through 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline scientists have identified as the deadline to prevent catastrophic climate change. Healthy ecosystems are vital to meeting those goals.

Restoring ecosystems is a massive challenge. But more and more people realise their role as kaitiaki (guardians) of our land and waters, and are leading the way to change.  

Celebrating New Zealand Communities

WWF-New Zealand, in partnership with the Tindall Foundation, provides funding and support to local conservation projects and environmental education projects in communities and schools throughout Aotearoa. Together, we’ve provided 443 groups with over $4.95 million of funding since 2000.

This year, we have 22 well-deserving community groups: 12 through the Community Conservation Fund and 10 through our Environmental Action Fund. From biodiversity projects, tree plantings, river cleanups, predator-free movements, and more – these groups are putting in the hard mahi for the well-being of Aotearoa.

Check out their work, below, and head to their websites to learn more. You might even be inspired to start your own environmental initiative!

What You Can Do on World Environment Day

We all have a part to play in helping to protect and preserve the environment. Change is only possible if we act together. Here’s how you can get involved in ecosystem restoration for World Environment Day and beyond:

  1. Actions: Join an existing local restoration effort, or start your own. For example, you could clean up a lake, beach, park or other natural area; or plant native trees or plants in your garden or at your workplace or school. 
  2. Choices: As well as restoring ecosystems on the ground, we need to give them a break. We can tread more lightly by changing what we do, what we consume, and the waste we leave behind -- for example, going car-free or eating plant-based. Here’s how you can shrink your environmental footprint and let ecosystems rebound.
  3. Voices: This year provides a critical opportunity as world leaders get set to make critical decisions on climate and the environment that will shape decades to come. For them to act, they need to hear from you. Make your voice heard and call for nature’s recovery!
For more ways to join #GenerationRestoration and take part in World Environment Day, check out the UN Ecosystem Restoration Playbook.