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Ecosanctuary example of ORC support for biodiversity

March 21, 2014

Ecosanctuary example of ORC support for biodiversity

ORC has been a strong supporter of the development of the Orokonui ecosanctuary near Dunedin in recent years. This week councillors and executive staff visited the complex to see first-hand how the venture was progressing.

The council has contributed $583,000 to various capital projects at the 307ha ecosanctuary.

The major grants were $248,000 towards construction of the visitor and education centre and $215,000 towards the erection of the 8.7km predator-proof fence.

Other grants totalling $120,000 were provided for an aviary; a vehicle storage shed; the construction of a walking track (the Kiwi track); a perimeter fence; and for plant and equipment.

ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said the ecosanctuary had become an important site for biodiversity in Otago, and the council was pleased to have been able to support it.

“Everyone who has contributed something to it from its original conception 20 years ago has reason to be proud of such a substantial public achievement. A good deal of community support and countless hours of voluntary work went into its establishment,” Mr Woodhead said.

“It is now a valuable centre for biodiversity, conservation, education, and recreation and is starting to fulfil its potential as a premier Dunedin destination for international and New Zealand tourists.”

“We were right behind the effort to get it up and running and it’s great to now see it flourishing,” Mr Woodhead said.

ORC has included the proposed development of a biodiversity strategy in its draft Annual Plan for 2014-15, which will be released at the end of the month.

The proposed strategy will draw together council’s approach to biodiversity, providing the basis for the development of future work programmes.

Apart from the strategy development, ORC’s biodiversity focus in 2014-15 will include:

• Preparing a wilding tree discussion paper.
• Monitoring of and reporting on the state of Otago’s regionally significant wetlands
• Administering the Honda Tree Fund in Otago, and allocating funding provided by Honda NZ to community groups for planting projects.
• Assisting community groups where possible with information on biodiversity topics.

Mr Woodhead said it was useful for councillors to discuss biodiversity with Orokonui general manager Chris Baillie.

“We look forward to hearing submissions about our annual plan proposal from interested parties.”

Ms Baillie said the development phase of the ecosanctuary had been successful because of the support of donors like ORC. The ecosanctuary now had a clear vision about how it would like to develop in the future, she said.

ENDS

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