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Generating a sustainable future for the Selwyn District

For more than 15 years, Rātā Foundation has supported a Canterbury environmental project that is helping the community contribute to a more sustainable future.

Lincoln Envirotown Trust delivers several projects in the Selwyn District that help raise awareness of environmental issues and enable residents to engage and create action in their community.

Chair and Project Manager for Lincoln Envirotown, Dave Fitzjohn, says that as the projects grow throughout the wider Selwyn area, more residents are becoming aware and getting involved.

As an environmental trust, the idea was to develop a community group that allowed the people of Lincoln to take responsibility for their sustainability.

“We currently have 164 volunteers giving over 1,500 hours each year, and there is a huge number of people involved,” says Dave.

“The trust couldn’t function without them.”

The trust had six large-scale projects running during 2022, including maintaining the Mahoe Reserve, Selwyn Timebank, Lincoln Community Garden, and the Selwyn Trap Library.

It also runs another eight to nine events throughout the year that are attended by local people of all ages – from primary school children to adults.

“We run sustainability workshops, frequently attended by around 50 people, for those who want to learn how to do their gardening at home or participate in a clothes swap,” says Dave.

One event that promoted sustainability was a waste-to-art competition for local high school students. Entries used materials that would typically be sent to landfill and instead turned into inspiring pieces of art.

“The kids did some amazing things with metal, and some had used old seed bags and bailing twine,” says Dave. “It was a fantastic response and an important reminder to actively involve kids.

“High school students originally started Lincoln Envirotown, so it is one of our major motivations.”

The trust collaborates with many local primary and high schools, Lincoln University, Selwyn District Council, the Department of Conservation, local businesses, and landowners. It keeps up to date with environmental practices, sustainability research, and best practice for its programs and events with schools and the wider community.

Future projects will also collaborate with local iwi as the trust establishes a stronger relationship with Te Taumutu Rūnanga – maintaining and respecting the history and culture of mana whenua and the values of the land.

Rātā Foundation Chief Executive, Leighton Evans, says that the Lincoln Envirotown Trust is an excellent example of how a community can work together and partner with other organisation’s to help reduce environmental impacts for future generations.

“The trust is a widely respected and trusted community organisation that has inspired and encouraged growing numbers of local people, through its education and sustainability programmes, to take actions that benefits our natural environment,” says Leighton.

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