Ruud Kleinpaste contemplates the perfect Christmas present.
Our Bugman has ideas for the perfect Christmas gift.
it’s always a bit of a bother, finding the right Christmas presents.
I’m not very good at that sort of thing, but I always try to give something that is nature-related. For the little grandkids, it’s usually no problem; they’ll be interested in a heap of different activities and it’s great to channel their enthusiasm to the outdoors.
Resources that help them collect natural history specimens are never a waste of time: collection jars and large containers with built-in magnifying glasses are great fun and just the beginning. Books with identification guides to the bugs, plants and birds of Aotearoa will always work, especially if the recipient’s age is characteristic of serious reading and discovery.
What about some binoculars or a box in which you can pin and store insect specimens? That’s cool Nature Nerd stuff. When they get a little older, I may get them onto the Predator Free bandwagon and buy a range of different traps, lures and baits, so they can catch exotic pests and log their success on the website trap.nz.
I recently spent a good few hours with the inspiring people of Pest Control Research (traps.co.nz) in Rolleston and saw a heap of seriously interesting technology around detecting and trapping possums, rodents, stoats and ferrets. There’s a myriad of different systems to get those devastating critters before they can raid the fantail nest or get the bellbird juveniles in my garden.
They had tracking tunnels with clever ink pads that will stick black ink to a pest’s feet, creating clear tracks over the white, smooth paper in the tunnel. This makes them easily identifiable if you compare them with the exemplar tracks on the various websites. Of course, the grandkids immediately thought of using this technology to see if they could produce clear fingerprints of themselves on the tracking tunnel paper.
Technology and experimentation were the winners on the day.
For older family members and friends, it may be harder to get something useful that is also sustainable and doesn’t create waste. The perfect gift idea can be found at Trees That Count, where you can give the gift of a native tree or two or three. This online marketplace (treesthatcount.co.nz) matches funding for native trees with community groups, iwi and landowners who need more trees for a planting project. Its objective is to get more native trees in the ground and it is keeping a count of the number of native trees being planted across the country. It is quite clearly supporting the nationwide project to get a billion trees into the ground within the next decade or so.
The Government is keen to absorb as much carbon as possible and yes, a lot of the billion trees will include the good old eucalypts and radiata pines. But Trees That Count (as part of a collaborative effort involving Project Crimson and the Tindall Foundation) focuses not just on helping the country to become carbon neutral, but also add a great dollop of biodiversity and ecosystem services to the mix with native trees.
That immediately turns “neutral” into “positive” – just like how nature does it! How does Trees That Count work? Imagine you are a lover of native trees who wants to do a lot of good for New Zealand and the planet in general (as I’m sure you are!). You go online and simply buy any number of native trees and choose a beautiful gift certificate that will be sent to your giftee. In this way, it also serves large scale funding by environmentallyminded corporations and philanthropists. These trees then go into the tree pool to be distributed to planting groups around the country working to restore their environment, whether they focus on increasing the size of an existing native bush area, creating beautiful recreational areas or creating a forest corridor to connect bird habitats. Your gifter will be told where and when their trees have been planted, and will see the planting on the Trees That Count map. Trees That Count has several gift registries (newborn babies, birthdays, Christmas presents – it’s up to you!), and they keep track of when and where these trees are planted (over 21 million of them since 2016!), so every tree really counts.
Go online and simply buy any number of native trees and choose a beautiful gift certificate that will be sent to your giftee.
View from PunakaikiPororari River Loop.