06.06.09 22:47 Age: 9 yrs

History of Arbor Day

By: Ian Fish

Every year Arbor Day is held to draw attention to the importance of trees in our society.

The founder of Arbor Day was Julius Sterling Morton a member of Nebraska's Board of Agriculture. He asked for one day a year to be set aside for planting trees to help save the Great Western Plains. They had been almost totally cleared of trees. As a result the world's first Arbor Day was held in Nebraska on 10 April, 1872.

New Zealand's first Arbor Day planting took place in Greytown in the Wairarapa on 3 July, 1890. Following calls for the establishment of a day for tree planting, 4 August was designated as a holiday in government offices for Arbor Day. This country's first official celebration took place in Wellington that year.

By 1930 the tradition was established in the United States, France, Norway, Russia, Japan, China and most of the Commonwealth countries. During the 1970s and 80s, the ideals of Arbor Day began to take on a global perspective as New Zealanders shared a concern over the destruction of the Earth's forests. In 1977, the date for Arbor Day was set on 5 June, World Environment Day. Prior to then Arbor Day, in New Zealand, was celebrated on August 4 - which is rather late in the year for tree planting in New Zealand hence the date change.

What the Department of Conservation (DOC) does for Arbor Day: Many of DOC's Arbor Day activities focus on ecological restoration projects using native plants to restore habitats that have been damaged or destroyed by humans or invasive pests and weeds. There are great restoration projects underway around New Zealand and many organisations including community groups, landowners, conservation organisations, iwi, volunteers, schools, local businesses, nurseries and councils are involved in them. These projects are part of a vision to protect and restore the indigenous biodiversity

Arbor Day is a special time for us to reflect on the gifts that trees give us every day.


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