As trust manager for the Native Forest Restoration Trust, which will benefit from Britomart’s Greening the City project, Sandy Crichton is passionate about restoring native habitats.

What does the Native Forest Restoration Trust do, and how long has it been doing it?

The Native Forest Restoration Trust was formed to help restore, regenerate and protect New Zealand’s native forests and wetlands. Purchasing a piece of land and stopping it from being logged, farmed, or built on is not enough to guarantee its survival. Invasive weeds and introduced pests such as possums, rats, mice and stoats all threaten our native plants and animals. For our forests to regenerate and be restored to their natural state, for them to survive for generations to come, they need a helping hand. They need to be protected from weeds and pests. They need time for seeds to sprout into seedlings; for seedlings to become saplings; and for saplings to grow into strong, mature trees. We’ve been doing this for almost 40 years. We own over 7,000 hectares of native forest and wetland throughout the North and South islands – nature reserves which are now protected for all New Zealanders forever.

Who works on the trust, and how does the trust choose which reserves to focus its attention on?

The Trust is governed by a board of voluntary Trustees with the support of a Trust Manager, Administrator, several Reserve Managers and a network of Honorary Rangers and volunteers. We also work with a range of external contractors. Each piece of land that we look to purchase is assessed on its ecological significance, viability for ensuring the long-term sustainability of that particular type of habitat and capacity to naturally regenerate.

What makes you want to contribute your time to the trust?

Quite simply, I believe in the Trust’s mission. I’ve been fortunate over the years to have worked with protected species all over the world. I’ve always appreciated the importance of providing those species with a safe home. Protecting our forests doesn’t only mean protecting our trees. Our native wildlife, including birds, bats, skinks, geckos, tuatara and even insects, rely on a healthy native habitat to survive. Habitat restoration and protection is vital to our native species. These important ecosystems are not only beautiful, and part of what makes New Zealand unique, they also help to regulate climate, prevent erosion, purify and regulate water and store carbon.

Do you feel optimistic about the chances for increasing reforestation of parts of the country, or is it still a tough battle?

The opportunities are there, but it would require a significant shift in policy to reforest large areas nationwide. The Trust was formed in 1980 when a group of people got together to protest the felling of giant totara in Pureora Forest. Our ethos remains the same as it was back then – if we all come together, we can achieve extraordinary things. Our supporters have shown this time and time again, most recently when raising $500,000 to purchase a 133-hectare block of forest wetland, bordering Egmont National Park (Taranaki Mahood-Lowe Reserve). This extraordinary passion and commitment fills me with optimism for the future. 

What will you use donations from Britomart’s Greening the City project for?

Donations help native trees like kauri, rata, rimu, kahikatea and New Zealand ferns flourish. They help our native birds - the beautiful wood pigeon, the illusive kiwi and the haunting songbird kōkako, among many others - fill the canopy and the forest floor. Donations also help our sometimes lesser appreciated natives, like bats, geckos and kauri snails reclaim their rightful homes in our forests.