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New Wildlife Refuge For Thames

New Wildlife Refuge For Thames

Conservation Minister Chris Carter today announced that a Nature Heritage Fund contribution has assisted the Miranda Naturalists’ Trust in purchasing 11.1013 hectares of land at Miranda, Firth of Thames, for development into an attractive and securely managed roosting site for migratory waders.

“The natural qualities of the Firth of Thames are internationally recognised under the Ramsar Convention," Mr Carter said.

"The area forms a key site for migratory birds on the East Asian-Australian flyway. This recognition does not, however, give added protection to the birds, and initiatives such as this are essential to ensure protection of their habitat.”

Commonly observed bird species in the Firth of Thames include the South Island pied oystercatcher, variable oystercatcher, New Zealand dotterel, wrybill, godwit, knot, turnstone, red-necked stint, black-backed gull, red-billed gull, caspian tern, white-fronted tern, curlew sandpiper, arctic skua, black shag, mallard duck, white-faced heron, banded dotterel, welcome swallow and pied stilt.

The property is situated on the landward side of the main Kaiaua Road, just south of the Miranda Shorebird Centre. The Shorebird Centre, which is owned and operated by the Trust, has achieved much in the fields of education and tourism.

“Most of the land on the seaward side is protected by the Department of Conservation as Wildlife Management Reserve,” said Mr Carter, “and the Trust has helped administer the area, impressing the Department with its enthusiasm and support.”

The purchased land, currently under pasture, is part of a formation of old shell banks with a natural depression into which the sea used to reach. The depression runs southward through adjacent properties that the Trust wishes to acquire in the future. Since public access to the sea front areas can prevent migratory birds from resting and preparing for their long flights, the Trust intends to use this new area to create a protected habitat for the sea birds over which they can maintain control of public access to enable the birds to rest undisturbed.

“Predator control will be used to provide the wrybill with a safe roosting site enabling them to return to South Island in good condition," Mr Carter said.
"The New Zealand dotterel will be given a better chance to breed and raise their young than is the case elsewhere in the greater Auckland area, and it is possible many Arctic shorebirds will also roost at the site.”

The land will be owned and managed by the Miranda Naturalists’ Trust, to be protected as Wildlife Refuge under the Wildlife Act 1953.

“It is the Fund’s policy to foster a partnership approach with local and regional councils, conservation organisations and community groups to achieve better conservation outcomes and more effective use of funding resources,” said Mr Carter.

“This project is a good example of that process taking place.”

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