The Mazda Foundation has supported Project Crimson since 2004 and together they founded the TREEmendous programme in 2008. In the past two years Mazda has donated 50,000 trees on behalf of Mazda customers. We chatted to Project Crimson’s CEO Adele Fitzpatrick about conservation and its Trees That Count programme.

What sparked your love for conservation and the natural environment?

Growing up in the Hutt Valley I spent most of my childhood riding my bike through our leafy suburb or climbing trees. As a teen I spent a lot of time overseas, including a stint living in the desert of Israel, which made me appreciate the natural beauty of home. I don’t have a background in conservation, but I know that being in native bush makes me a happier person. I get those great endorphins from going for a trail run or mountain bike ride with my dog and my mates.

Why is Project Crimson so passionate about the planting of native trees?

We can’t bear the thought of New Zealand not having its iconic native trees – it’s why we were formed 30 years ago. The pōhutukawa (pictured below) was close to extinction in 1990 but Project Crimson helped save it and its close relative, rātā. We’ve since focused our efforts on planting native trees — to protect our ecosystems and the native flora and fauna we are so very proud of in New Zealand.

How did you first become involved with Project Crimson?

I was introduced to the good people at Project Crimson 15 years ago through a campaign I was running that caught their attention. A few years later I was asked to be a trustee of Project Crimson Trust. We then applied for significant funding to boost our capacity and profile, meaning Project Crimson needed a CEO and more staff. Thankfully my fellow trustees thought I was right for the job!

A lot of people feel helpless when it comes to conservation and helping reduce the effects of climate change. What would be your advice to people who don’t know how to get started?

We can all make a difference! See below…

What are your best conservation hacks?

• Ride a bike more often
• Use a keep cup
• Know where your food comes from
• Plant or fund a native tree
• Give packaging back to the retailer or manufacturer – if they have to fix the problem, they’ll stop creating it

Treemendous helps schools across the country create outldoor learning spaces from unused land 

What’s on the agenda for Project Crimson and Trees that Count in 2020?

I’m on a mission to make funding a native tree the Kiwi way of recognising something significant, such as a celebration or commiseration. I’d also like to see every tourist who comes to our country fund a native tree.

What was your first job?

I worked at a coffee shop every day after school for 5 years! I’ve always loved being really busy and earning my own money because it gave me independence. I bought my first car when I was 16 and took myself off to Bali with a school friend when we were 17.

What do you do in your spare time?

Outdoor adventures feature pretty highly, although not as much as they used to, mostly mountain biking, trail runs and beach time with my dog. Any time spent outside is a good time.

Do you have a hidden talent?

I’m amazing at parallel parking.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I used to race cars with my dad as a child. He would build classic cars in the garage and I’d always be in there ‘helping’ him. We never went very fast, but it was always very thrilling!

Who inspires you?

Smart women with sass and who change things for the better.