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Sanctuary haven for native species

Sanctuary haven for native species

13 July 2005

New Zealand’s largest mainland pest eradication project is proving extremely successful, allowing Tawharanui Regional Park to be formally opened as an Open Sanctuary early next year.

The Tawharanui Open Sanctuary project is the largest mainland pest eradication project to be attempted in New Zealand to date, and is the first to be undertaken in a coastal lowland ecosystem.

The Auckland Regional Council (ARC) Parks and Heritage Committee today resolved to formally open Tawharanui Regional Park as an Open Sanctuary in March 2006.

The ARC recognises the invaluable support of the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society Incorporated (TOSSI), whose volunteers have provided significant financial and material contributions to the park.

“Our excellent partnership with TOSSI has enabled us to make huge progress on this project in a relatively short period of time,” says ARC Parks and Heritage Committee Chair, Cr Sandra Coney.

“TOSSI’s involvement in tree planting and work days, monitoring pest traps, maintaining the predator proof fence, school education programmes, community open days and their financial contribution, has been key to the success of the ARC’s initiatives. It is for this reason that we wish to renew the agreement between our organisations to ensure the ongoing and future success of the Open Sanctuary partnership project,” she says.

TOSSI committee member Sharon Kast says the society enjoys a great relationship with the Auckland Regional Council.

“While our initial goal has been to help finance the construction of the 2.5km predator proof fence, there is still a lot to do. Another ‘Art in the Woolshed’ exhibition in March will help provide financial support to the ARC,” she says.

Ms Kast says that tree planting and wetland restoration are the next big volunteer projects. “The more trees we can plant, the quicker the forest will return. We are looking forward to continuing our close working relationship with the ARC through the renewal the Memorandum of Agreement.”

The ARC and TOSSI have a Memorandum of Agreement that spells out the respective roles of the partnership. This is due for renewal this month.

On the ground, the removal of animal pests and preventing them from reinvading is the key to establishing a productive and safe environment for native species such as kereru, NZ dotterel, bellbirds and shore skinks. Lost species like kiwi and tuatara can then potentially be re-introduced.

In the last six months, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of insects (invertebrates), shore skinks and native bird species, including the unexpected reappearance of bellbirds earlier this year.

“The eradication of possums, weasels, wild cats and rats, and the decrease in numbers of rabbits, hedgehogs and mice is due to the aerial poison bait drop in late 2004 and the ongoing monitoring and trapping programme,” says Cr Coney.

“This spring we hope to see the successful breeding of native species in the park. We also look forward to seeing the range of species of birds, insects and even endangered native plants widening at Tawharanui as this project continues,” she says.

ENDS

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