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Environmental Initiatives Fund Encourages Climate Change Awareness

A pilot climate response programme is one of 11 projects Waikato Regional Council is supporting with funds from its Environmental Initiatives Fund (EIF).

The council’s Integrated Catchment Management Committee has approved total funding of $147,069.68 towards a range of environmental, restoration and educational initiatives across the region.

The climate response programme, by Go Eco (run by the Waikato Environment Centre Trust), was given $20,000 towards establishing a pilot to help small businesses, charities, non-government organisations and schools to understand, measure and report on their CO2 emissions, starting in 2022.

Integrated Catchment Management Committee chair Stu Kneebone said the committee felt the programme was valuable in progressing climate change awareness in smaller and medium sized organisations which may have limited funds and time or are unsure of how to get started.

“At the end of the day it will be up to all of us to begin taking steps to help limit our carbon footprint and the sooner we start the better.”

This year’s applicants to the EIF were asked to state how their project would increase resilience to climate change and/or contribute to positive carbon sequestration, although this was not a funding requirement.

“This was an opportunity for us to demonstrate leadership by supporting community initiatives that increase awareness of climate change impacts and encourage mitigation through action and education,” said Cr Kneebone.

“Many of the projects we get applications for do that in some way, such as the planting of native trees and control of pest plants and animal species.

“Trees count. When you’re planting natives, they’re in the ground for the long haul, so that’s a lot of CO2 being absorbed.

“We fund a lot of pest plant and animal control projects, too. Getting rid of them means improved understoreys and regeneration of our native forests, which improves the ability of the land to withstand the effects of drought or excessive rainfall.”

The council received a total of 27 applications for this funding round, with grants awarded ranging from $3775 to $27,276.

“There were a lot of great projects looking for funding, and altogether the requests added up to eight times the amount of money we had available,” said Cr Kneebone. “It’s always a difficult decision for us to make.”

The EIF, which is one of three funds the council has for community and landowner environmental and restoration projects, is funded from a portion of the Natural Heritage Targeted Rate of $5.80 per property per annum.

Earlier this year, a total of $200,000 was awarded from the Small Scale Community Initiatives Fund to 59 applicants for animal and plant pest control on private land.

Projects to receive funding in the latest EIF round

Thames Coast Kiwi Care $8500
Thames Coast Kiwi Care services a trapping network within 4893 hectares in the Te Mata and Tapu valleys along the Thames Coast to protect a remnant population of the Coromandel brown kiwi. The local kiwi population here has increased from an estimated 28 birds in 2006 to an estimated 250 kiwi in 2021. This funding will help ensure best practice trapping by more than 50 volunteers.

Pukorokoro Miranda Naturalists’ Trust $13,400
Pukorokoro Miranda Naturalists’ Trust advocates for shorebirds and their habitats and promotes education and public awareness of coastal ecology, shorebird research and conservation. The trust operates the Miranda Shorebird Centre on the southwestern shores of the Firth of Thames, which is free to the public. This funding will pay for the wages of a shorebird guide for one season to educate visitors about shorebirds and inspire action to protect these species.

Mahakirau Forest Estate Society Inc $10,000
Mahakirau Forest Estate Society runs a predator control programme on behalf of 24 landowners on 600 hectares of privately owned forest between Coromandel and Whitianga. Bordering the Manaia Forest Sanctuary and Papakai Ecological Area, the rata-podocarp-tawa forest is internationally significant and has outstanding wildlife value, including the Northern striped gecko, Archey’s frogs, Coromandel brown kiwi and Helm’s butterfly. This funding will help pay for contractors to continue the predator control and undertake monitoring.

Waikato Environment Centre Trust $20,000
Trading as Go Eco, the Waikato Environment Centre Trust provides a community facility for advice, information and inspiration on living more sustainably. This funding will help pay for a pilot climate response programme which aims to prepare businesses, charities and other organisations to understand, measure and report on their CO2 emissions.

Ngāti Hei Trust $8,082.38
Ngāti Hei Trust is a charitable trust that represents the interests of all Ngāti Hei iwi members (beneficiaries). Its purpose is to promote and safeguard the spiritual, economic, social and cultural wellbeing of descendants of Hei (mana tangata) and to retain, reclaim and develop the traditional lands, islands and seas of Ngāti Hei (mana whenua, mana moana). This funding will help pay for a dive survey of scallop populations following a two year rahui on the eastern side of the Kuaotunu Peninsula.

Driving Creek Railway Ltd $15,000
Driving Creek Railway Ltd is a charitable company that owns a tourism business and conservation park in Coromandel. It offers low cost educational conservation tours for schools and visitors and free self-guided walks through its onsite nature sanctuary. This funding will help pay for a proposed Driving Creek Kiwi Care project on 38.72 hectares of land, including a predator control network and weed control.

Project Kiwi Trust $27,276.40
Project Kiwi Trust is a kiwi conservation project operating on 2850 hectares on the Kuaotunu Peninsula. The trust was the first community-based project in New Zealand to protect kiwi and has been operating for 25 years, currently protecting an estimated 535 kiwi. This funding will help purchase trapping and bait station materials to control rats, possums, mustelids and wasps.

Mercury Bay Environmental Trust $13,000
Mercury Bay Environmental Trust is a community trust in Whitianga which focuses on a wide range of environmental activities. This application is to fund the control of wilding pines on 62 hectares of land owned by the Backdrop Trust at the edge of Whitianga Harbour. The trust seeks to replant the land with native trees and develop tracks for the public to access areas of native bush, wetlands and beaches.

Karuna Falls Cooperative Society $23,036
Karuna Falls Co-operative Society is a rural off-grid ecovillage of around 20 households on 297 hectares of non-subdividable land in northern Coromandel. Its aim is to safeguard the regeneration of native forest and ensure protection of waterways and land from environmentally damaging practices such as mining activities, deforestation and pollution. This funding will help pay for a contractor to fell wilding pines on their property between Colville and Waikawau Bay.

Hauraki District Council $3774.90
This funding is for the removal of pest plants and the supply of native plants to restore a 1-hectare kahikatea remanent in the Hauraki Plains. Speedy Reserve is a regionally significant natural area near Ngātea and is in poor condition. Pest plants such as privet and ivy are abundant. The Hauraki Plains was once a vast wetland covered in kahikatea. Today, about 1-2 per cent of kahikatea forest remains in the Waikato region.

Tongariro National Trout Centre Society $5000
The Tongariro National Trout Centre Society is a charitable trust that provides a visitor education experience about freshwater conservation, based at the Tongariro National Trout Centre in Turangi. This funding is to help pay for the salary of an educator to deliver a curriculum linked, learning experience about fresh water to students outside the classroom.

For more information on funding and scholarships by Waikato Regional Council go to https://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/community/funding-and-scholarships/.

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