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ORC Approves Funding For 14 ECO Fund Recipients

Councillors also agreed to seek an alternative option to support the work of the Southern Great Lakes Programme.

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) today approved the recommendations of its ECO Fund Decision Panel to support 14 community-led projects around the region that protect, enhance and promote Otago’s environment.

The projects come from all corners of Otago and cover a range of environmental values and objectives.

Chair of the ECO Fund Decision panel Cr Michael Deaker said community projects such as those supported by the ECO Fund would be invaluable during the post-COVID-19 recovery.

“We had a range of outstanding applications in this round, and I’m thrilled by the projects we’ve been able to support.

“It is always tremendous to support Otago groups doing great things in their backyard through ORC’s ECO Fund, but there’s extra significance to the funding decisions in this round, given the circumstances in which they were made.

“While most of these groups have had to put their projects on hold, this money will give them a real boost once they’re able to resume in the coming months.”

Applications for this round were open from 1 - 20 March 2020. Twenty-four applications were received seeking over $323,000 of funding, more than twice the $132,573.78 available.

Councillors also agreed to seek an alternative funding option for ORC to support the work of the Southern Great Lakes Programme, led by Dr Marc Schallenberg.

While the project’s application did not meet the key ECO Fund criteria of community involvement and engagement, the programme was viewed by the Decision Panel to provide significant benefit to ORC’s work programmes and environmental outcomes for the Southern Great Lakes.

For more information on the ECO Fund, visit www.orc.govt.nz/ecofund.

Projects approved for funding (in alphabetical order):

Bannockburn Project

$8,663.39 - This project aims to reforest this area with native grasses, shrubs and trees from the Cromwell basin and surrounding areas. It includes an insect and lichen sanctuary.

Beehive Biodiversity

$1,045.50 - Bayfield Kindergarten will create a habitat to support a beehive and to encourage biodiversity within our local area. Our tamariki and their whanau will learn hands-on about the value of biodiversity and how they can also encourage biodiversity at home. Funding is for plants, timber and apiary suits.

Clifton Falls Walkway Community Project - Stage 2

$12,000 - This project aims to improve biodiversity and habitat for native birds and invertebrates by creating a riparian corridor alongside the walkway, using a variety of locally sourced native plant species; to provide hands-on educational, opportunities to local schools; and to engage with the local Moeraki runaka on ways to improve the cultural health of this section of the river, for example by planting flax and allowing mahinga kai.

Halo Forest Reforestation

$15,000 - The Halo Forest Restoration Project is restoring the expanding native forest habitat across both public and private land within the landscape north of Dunedin.

Helping the Tomahawk Lagoon Community to look after its own backyard

$16,839.84 - To support the development of information and resources about Tomahawk Lagoon’s water quality. In conjunction with community groups, schools in the area and relevant organisations such as the Otago Regional Council, ECOTAGO hopes to continue the investigation to the lagoon’s ecosystem, producing an updated environmental report card and a plan of catchment plan of improvement. Citizen science will play an integral role in investigation and education around the lagoon.

Hoiho Trapping Intensification & Upgrade Project

$4,980 - The traps purchased with this funding will help us to intensify the trapping effort at two of our reserves, Long Point / Irahuka in the Catlins and at Otapahi (Otago Peninsula) as well as upgrading old fenn trapping technology. Reducing the risk of predation from mustelids and feral cats is vital to ensure the survival of endangered yellow-eyed penguins / hoiho whose numbers have declined significantly to only 168 breeding pairs on the South Island mainland.

Island Biodiversity

$10,500 - Young and old(er!) help protect and restore the ecological values of a special island in Otago Harbour. ‘Hands on’ learning about the environment, in the context of an island – restoring different habitats to supp-ort biodiversity, controlling pests (weeds and predators), and caring for our coastline. This will be made possible by partial funding for salary from ORC’s ECO Fund.

Makarora Catchment Threatened Species Project - From Ridge to River

$3,000 - ABT threatened species programmes are divided into four focal habitats from ridge to river and the species they support; braided river for wrybill, black-fronted tern, banded dotterel, black-billed gull, beech/podocarp forest for kaka and long-tailed bat, upper river catchments for whio and the alpine environment for rock wren and kea.

Morningstar Reserve Regeneration Project

$1,917.20 - The aim of the project is to restore the indigenous eco-system of this conservation reserve by reducing plant and animal pests and bringing back endemic species.

Protecting, Enhancing and Promoting wetlands in Otago

$27,360 - Coordinator position at Te Nohoaka O Tukiauau for wetlands protection, enhancement and promotion in Otago.

Soil Your Undies Otago

$5,000 - What can earthworms and undies tell us about our soil health, and what is the role of earthworms and dung beetles for soil functioning? Funds will be used to provide a cohort of dung beetles, boxes and traps for schools and specific participating farms in East and North Otago. This will support a larger OPSP proposal with the aim to make field observations of biological indicators in rural East and North Otago to understand more about our soil health.

Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust

$10,000 - The project is to consolidate the work Te Kākano has done over the last 12 years, and to continue to increase the involvement of the community in local habitat restoration, to grow and plant eco-sourced native plants in the Upper Clutha Basin and to shift our plans into, and streamline operations within the newly expanded nursery space and to advance stage 2 of the expansion (building facilities).

Waiereka Pod Group Biodiversity Engagement Projects

$4,428 - This publicly accessible site alongside the Alps 2 Ocean cycleway will provide a platform from which to educate the general public and local community groups on the importance of protecting our environment. The project will also allow local Enviroschool, Weston School, to work towards its Guiding Principle of ‘leaning for sustainability’.

Waste Free Wanda Tour

$11,839.85 - Delivered by multi-award-winning singer/songwriter Anna van Riel, the focus of this project is to provide fun, interactive and educational musical performances to 52 schools and approximately 6,033 pupils and teachers in the Otago region. The shows will provide audiences with east-to-use tools that support positive environmental change around water and wildlife conservation, as well as offering an insight into how we view our waste on the planet, and how we can each take responsibility and be the change.

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