THE City of Ballarat will become the first council in Victoria to join an international campaign for children to plant two million trees by 2020. The One Tree Per Child Program aims to help the environment and wildlife, educate children, and inspire pupils to volunteer and get involved with the community.
Olivia Newton-John and Do Something Managing Director Jon Dee cofounded the initiative, which was launched in Australia on World Environment Day 2015. Olivia Newton-John and Jon Dee are the original founders of National Tree Day and their aim is to get millions of children planting millions of trees. To launch Ballarat City Council’s participation, Managing Director Jon Dee joined Deputy Mayor Cr Peter Innes and Yuille Park Community College pupils in planting the program’s first seedlings in Victoria, last Friday. Council will work with all Ballarat primary schools to get them involved and help them organise tree planting sites.
Speaking at the launch Mr Dee said that currently they are in the of signing up councils.
“Olivia Newton-John, myself and my daughter Estelle started this up and the aim is to have every child plant one tree before they leave primary school,” he said. “We are trying to make that work by signing up councils and then councils go out and recruit the local primary schools and give them a hand.”
The Friday the first of many native trees and shrubs were planted by a number of grade three, four and five children.
“The plantings help the environment, help with habitat for wildlife and it gets the kids, so when they come back here years later, they will know that this is the area that all the kids from the primary school in this area planted,” Mr Dee said. “The councils are in that position where they can help because often the schools don’t have the land for their own trees but children all around the country can go to areas like this, and the council can line them up and they have the people that can assist.” The Federal Government has also supported One Tree Per Child by pledging $300,000 to help plant 100,000 trees. “The first place we launched this was Bristol in England, so we have 130 schools and 36,000 kids,” Mr Dee added proudly. “So we have just launched it here in Australia and these children are the first children in Victoria to do it, so Ballarat is the first council in Victoria to sign up. “We have eight councils in New South Wales already signed up and I’m talking to 20 councils currently, so we are getting this amazing response.”
What Mr Dee and Olivia Newton-John are trying to do is have the 200 million children in Australia who are in primary school is to have every one of these children plant a tree before they leave school. “That’s the aim and we feel confident that we will do it because this is such a positive thing for these kids to do,” Mr Dee said. “It’s the first act of volunteering. It’s not just about planting trees, what we are trying to instill in these children is community values, that we expect them to give back to the community from a very young age. “They are literally putting down roots in their community and as they grow these seedlings will grow with them and so their sense of belonging to Ballarat grows with them.”