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Friends of Flora

18 August 2011

Friends of Flora Celebrate 10th Anniversary

Friends of Flora will this weekend celebrate 10 years of protecting and enhancing the native wildlife and vegetation of Kahurangi National Park’s Flora Stream area.

Friends of Flora (FoF) were to have been joined in their celebrations by their new patron former prime minister Helen Clark, but she is now unable to attend following the death of her mother.

FoF members and supporters will gather at a function on Saturday night (20 August) to mark their 10th anniversary. Ms Clark, now Secretary-General of the United Nations Development Programme, was to have spoken at the occasion and FoF founders Maryann Ewers and Bill Rooke and FoF chairman Peter Adams had planned to take her and her husband Peter Davis to visit their project area.

Maryann said the group’s 10th anniversary was a wonderful milestone for the group and FoF members were thrilled Helen Clark had become their patron.

“Friends of Flora arose out of Bill and I noticing many bird species that should be in the Flora Stream weren’t there. FoF started out with just a handful of friends and family and our first trapping line was laid out in late 2001 along the Flora Track to Gridiron.”

Today the group’s pest control encompasses more than 60 kilometres of stoat and rat trap lines over around 5500 hectares, and volunteers now number around 90.

Maryann said maintaining the trap lines was at times a hard slog for the dedicated volunteers, with them mostly off-track in wilderness terrain at elevations rising steeply from around 850 to 1600 metres. But seeing birdlife enhanced as a result of their efforts brought rewards.

“It’s been very gratifying bringing blue duck/whio back from extinction in the Flora catchment and to see them now well on their way to being a sustainable breeding population.

“We were also excited to return great spotted kiwi to our project area last year, after decades since they disappeared from that part of the park.“

Maryann thanked all FoF volunteers, sponsors, other supporters, and the Department of Conservation for assisting FoF to achieve its goals.

“If our volunteers have been the backbone of FoF, then DOC has been the cornerstone of the project. DOC staff have provided scientific advice and have worked dedicatedly with us, with blue duck and kiwi and in maintaining their own trap lines. This very good partnership has ensured our success.”

Maryann said 10 years down the track from FoF’s inception, there was no end in sight for the group.

“This work for our native wildlife and bush is ongoing - it must continue into perpetuity.”

ENDS

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