The need for the veterinary industry to take climate action, is not just being recognised in Australia, but over the ditch in New Zealand too. In 2022, South Wairarapa Veterinary Services (SWVS), a clinic with multiple locations on the North Island, took part in an Inaugural Tree Planting Day.
During the day, an amazing 620 native trees were planted by staff from SWVS, SVS Veterinary Supplies and Zoetis on a nearby property owned by Jane Ough. Staff members were so enthused they returned a month later to plant another 380 to get to the 1,000 total for the year.
Staff from SWVS coordinating the planting of 620 native trees.
Jane Ough is a small animal veterinarian at SWVS, as well as the Climate Change Ambassador for the New Zealand Veterinary Association (she is also a VfCA member). Jane and her partner Jeremy have set aside two-thirds of their property and covenanted it with the Queen Elizabeth II Trust. This has helped ensure the trees planted are able to be preserved and protected into the future. SWVS has also developed a green space for staff to enjoy beside the main clinic where they have planted 150 trees to date. They managed to repurpose some clinic waste during the process of planting these. Stable waste and flattened cardboard boxes were used for mulching trees, while old drip bags were repurposed as tree-guards. In 2023, using the well rotted stable waste they established flower gardens and a very popular staff vegetable garden at the main clinic.
Based on the results from their first carbon audit, the number of trees they planted in the QE2 covenant will offset almost 20% of SWVS’ total carbon emissions for that year.
In 2023, SWVS is aiming to offset all its annual emissions by planting 5,000 trees in the same covenant. The plan in future years is to offer this planting plan to other QE2 covenants owned by clients in the Wairarapa.
They’re proud to be working for a local business that’s making a start on what can sometimes seem an impossible challenge”.
Managing Director and Owner of SWVS, Aiden Smith
The green space they’ve created beside the main clinic is also a great place for staff to take a mental health work break and a reflective place for clients to take a last walk with their elderly dogs. As the Managing Director and owner of SWVS, Aidan Smith, puts it “they’re proud to be working for a local business that’s making a start on what can sometimes seem an impossible challenge”.
Staff from SWVS, SVS Veterinary Supplies and Zoetis after a hard days work at the Inaugural Tree Planting Day.
SWVS understand that offsetting by planting trees is not the complete solution - their main aim is to reduce their emissions. This journey started in 2021 when they undertook their first carbon audit. Since then they’ve taken a number of steps to reduce their carbon emissions, including:
- Setting an aspirational goal to be carbon neutral by 2028.
- Measuring their carbon footprint every two years to monitor their progress and identify areas to work on.
- Embedding sustainable decision making into every level of the business.
- Establishing a SWVS Climate Action group.
- Transitioning their fleet of vehicles to lower emissions vehicles starting with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in their equine team.
- Their stock team are now considering environmental impact in product selection by preferentially choosing, where available, products that are locally made from NZ compostable materials with compostable packaging.
- Introducing low carbon commuting by surveying staff and adding incentives. So far, over 1000 km has been cycled by the team!
- Encouraging others in the community and veterinary profession to join them in their efforts. This has included working with others such as their local councils and MPs, Sustainavet (NZ) Cycle Advocacy groups and Vets for Climate Action (Australia) to build momentum for positive change.
- Future goals to install solar panels, batteries and fast charge EVs, as well as to install water storage for roof capture.
Well done to the team at SWVS. We look forward to seeing your seedlings grow over the coming years. Watch the video below to experience what it was like to be part of their inaugural tree planting day.
To learn more about reducing your emissions to how to become an environmentally sustainable clinic, register to participate in the Climate Care Program!