Today on World Environment Day, Volunteering New Zealand (VNZ) recognises the value of people who contribute their time in protecting and sustaining Earth’s resources.

Three of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relate to protecting the environment. SDG 13 focuses on fighting climate change with SDG 14 and 15 respectively targeting the protection of life below water and life on land.

Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ) works in partnership with communities, government, non-governmental organisations and many of New Zealand’s top businesses to take on a wide range of conservation projects.

“The environmental issues that we face are too big for any one organisation or agency to tackle alone,” says General Manager Aaron Jaggar. “Support from local communities and volunteers is critical.”

Over 100,000 hours of volunteering are managed by CVNZ annually. The volunteers are planting over 100,000 native trees annually and undertake other important conservation work including weeding, predator control, fencing and monitoring.

“Volunteers not only add to the capacity of conservation work undertaken they also play a very important role in creating awareness within their communities and networks,” says Jaggar. “The goal for New Zealand to be predator free by 2050 will only be achieved through the mobilisation of volunteers and communities.”

Forest & Bird, New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organisation, relies on hundreds of volunteers at both the national and regional level. The bulk of the Society’s volunteers work at the Branch level, representing Forest & Bird at important stakeholder meetings (e.g., public hearings and submissions), and actively doing hands-on environment work. This includes tree planting, weeding, animal pest control, beach clean-ups, track creation and maintenance and guiding and educating visitors.

Volunteers at Forest & Bird also play a vital role in protecting species found nowhere else in the world.

“New Zealand’s environment is unique and precious globally,” says David Bowden, Manager of Programmes and Volunteer Coordination. “Thanks to its early isolation, the level of endemism among New Zealand plants and animals is one of the highest in the world.”

“Now more than ever, the work of conservation and advocating for the environment, needs to happen at the community level,” says Scott Miller, Chief Executive at VNZ. “Volunteers are crucial in making the world a better place to live in for generations to come.”