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Nelson Mainland Island Celebrates It Successes

The Minister of Conservation, Sandra Lee, today paid tribute to the achievements of the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project at St Arnaud including improved visitor facilities and increases in native bird populations.

The Minister was at the mainland island today to participate in third anniversary celebrations and to formally open two walking tracks – the Bellbird and Honeydew Walks.

"What has been achieved by the Department of Conservation with the support and goodwill of local people is evident in the resounding chorus of bellbirds that can now be heard as well as, increasingly, the screech of the kaka.

"The growth in the kaka population within the Rotoiti project area is particularly pleasing. Four pairs have nested in the block for two years and have produced 12 surviving young.

"This season there are three nests containing 10 more chicks soon to fledge but their survival hangs in the balance. These noisy and vulnerable young chicks are under threat from an increased number of stoats. In January, 45 stoats were caught in traps protecting the project area – almost as many as was caught in the whole of last year. An abundant beech seeding has provided more food for rats and mice which in turn have provided more food for stoats, increasing their numbers.

"So far, DOC efforts to protect these young kaka are succeeding and we hope they will continue to do so to help ensure the survival of this endangered species.

"The department’s stoat control programme is being supplemented by local people who are maintaining their own traps. It is examples such as this of the community working with the department that are key to the success of mainland islands."

The Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project is restoring 825 hectares of beech forest by Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park. Its aim is to create a refuge with few pests where populations of native plants and wildlife can flourish.

"An important role of mainland islands is to provide opportunity for people to see conservation work being done. Around 100,000 people come to Kerr Bay each year and two new walking tracks provide them with improved access to the project area. People of all ages can enjoy these short walks and along the way read colourful information panels that tell the story of the project and its aims.

"We hope these improved facilities will attract more visitors to the mainland island so they can see the transformation that is taking place and witness the Department of Conservation making a difference."

Ends

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