AFTER 16 years educating the community about environment awareness, the Invercargill Environment Centre (IEC) closed its doors permanently on 31 March.
Established by Southland Forest and Bird committee members in Martin St, South City, before relocating to the SIT Arcade for many years, the centre was an information bureau displaying pamphlets and information for various environmental groups and had also established various environmental initiatives.
IEC convener Jenny Campbell said it was not often that a centre or group outgrew its use.
“When the IEC started, very few people knew what the word ‘sustainability’ meant, there was no kerbside recycling, worm farms were very rare, Fair Trade items were a new concept, Bokashi bins and Enviro Schools were unheard of and very few people could find relevant information on websites, as they do now.
“Throughout the years, members of the centre had initiated many diverse projects including workshops in kindergartens about worm farms and recycling, primary school children painting fish on drains, recycled fashion parades and workshops on bucket gardens.”
Mrs Campbell said the Green Bike scheme, the Bike Doctors, who mended donated bikes which were then passed on, and the Lithgow St community garden had been some of the centre’s successful long-term projects.
“Who would have thought that people’s awareness and associated actions taken to care about the environment would have increased so markedly since the centre opened in 2001 in Martin St.”
So it was with a sense of achievement and pride, not sadness, closing the centre, she said. The decision to close was made by the centre’s members.
“All those who have supported the centre in any way over the past 16 years can feel proud that IEC has made its mark on the environment landscape with much of its vision being picked up by so many others… and this important work will continue through other groups.
“We’re not needed to the same extent any more.”
The centre’s three major activities, the environment room at Kidzone, recycling at Kidzone and the Spring Eco Fest, will continue under Forest and Bird. The Lithgow St community garden, which it operated alongside the Eastside Baptist Church, will be taken over by the church.
All the items in the centre were being donated to other environmental outlets and the regular volunteers would help out at other community projects, she said.
There will be a final celebration late this month for the volunteers, trustees and staff before the centre is cleared from the building.