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New plant protection invention used at The Big Give

Christchurch Community

7 March 2019

The first Community Guardians event for 2019 saw around 1000 students from the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) assembling at Christchurch's Styx River Catchment area to undertake a big clean-up and planting operation.

Called The Big Give, the volunteer event involved the SVA members donating their time to clear overgrown vegetation, plant native trees and plants and clean up a section of the Styx River.

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As part of the planting work, the SVA volunteers were the first big group to use Eco Gard tree and plant protectors - a new invention by 12-year-old Cantabrian Julia Christensen.

For her invention Julia won the Environment Canterbury 2018 Wrybill Award as well as an award from Callaghan Innovation.

The Eco Gard product is 100% biodegradable, durable and sustainable and it provides significant protection for newly planted trees and shrubs from animals, wind and herbicide spray drift.

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Julia came up with the idea of Eco Gard after spotting the use of plastic plant protectors and recognising the incongruity of a non-sustainable option for plant protection. She tested a range of products before finally settling on the jute sacking cloth with bamboo stakes.

“It was amazing to have the first full scale roll out of my invention happen with The Big Give. It was a perfect opportunity to help protect the plantings, make an environmental contribution and reduce plastic usage,” says Julia.

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The Eco Gard is now in commercial production, with Citycare being one of the first commercial supporters with their purchase for The Big Give and a follow-up order for 1000 more of the protectors.

“It’s great to not only support the SVA with their efforts but also nice to be able to support a young entrepreneur who is making great environmental decisions that will benefit the whole community,” said Nige Cottingham – Executive General Manager Strategy at Citycare.

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