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Native forest transforms with rare bird presence

Native forest transforms with rare bird presence

A North Island Robin feeds out of a customers hand at Rotorua Canopy Tours - a recent development due to the increase of birdlife in the area

Experience the wonder of seeing rare bird species return to a slice of ancient New Zealand bush transformed by pest eradiction, as part of Conservation Week at Rotorua Canopy Tours.

This year the Conservation Week (1-9 November) theme is ‘Discover the world where you live’ and you can explore nature from the tree canopy on a three-hour adventure zipline tour amongst ancient native trees, deep in a 500 hectare forest. The Rotorua Canopy Tour combines fun and excitement with pristine natural beauty and a passionate conservation message.

Rotorua Canopy Tours conservation manager and guide Gary Coker says the forest has shown a remarkable ability to recover from the years of constant damage and harm caused by introduced species, even within two short years of Rotorua Canopy Tours opening.

The substantial conservation support from visitors through donations and trap sponsorships has raised $16,000 and Rotorua Canopy Tours ticket contibutions has raised $35,000. This has allowed for 1000 traps to be set in the forest over the past 15 months eradicating three tonnes of pests in total.

“If this is what can be achieved in such a short period of time, I bounce out of bed with the knowledge that Rotorua Canopy Tours is here for the long term,” says Mr Coker.

“We will continue to protect this incredible slice of New Zealand which, day-by-day, is becoming even more special with every new bird, healthy tree and conservation-minded customer to take it all in and appreciate just what we have and are striving to achieve.”

Birdsong has returned to the forest, with visitors even able to feed birds such as the rare North Island Robin and if they are extra lucky, maybe even a Tomtit. Where once a Wood Pigeon was a pleasant surprise, they have become rowdy regulars showing off to customers and filling their stomachs with Tawa, Miro and Rimu berries safe from predation. Just this week Kaka were also spotted perched in the trees.

Rotorua Canopy Tours director James Fitzgerald says there has been an overwhelmingly positive response and support from visitors when it comes to conservation.

“In between the thrill of flying from tree to tree, our guides also share their passion and knowledge for the local history, the forest and the conservation challenges we face to preserve it all. It’s really cool to see customers come back and sponsor traps as part of our conservation efforts, as well as kids that contact us to say they’re studying our work for school projects.

“It’s also fantastic to see so many people and businesses giving both their time and money in support of the work we do. Our vision is to return the forest in which we operate to a pre-human state, full of bird chorus, for all New Zealanders and international visitors to enjoy.”

Department of Conservation (DOC) Rotorua partnerships manager Helen Neale says the regeneration of the forest is really exciting and is a great example of how a business and DOC can work together to make a difference. DOC provides conservation advice and Rotorua Canopy Tours manages all the pest control themselves.

“Conservation Week this year is all about encouraging people to enjoy their local natural environment and Canopy Tours is a great way to mix the thrill of flying between native trees with learning all about how animal pest control can benefit our native forest and the birds that live there.”


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