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Blumine Is to be transformed into new sanctuary

Blumine Island to be transformed into new sanctuary

Blumine Island in Queen Charlotte Sound is to be transformed into the most publicly accessible island wildlife sanctuary close to the South Island, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

"Blumine Island offers an extraordinary opportunity for public conservation because of its location in the heart of a major tourism area, its breadth of appeal, and the limited number of pests on it, " Mr Carter said.

"Over the next five years, the island will become a significant destination for visitors to Marlborough. The transformation will begin next year with a campaign to eradicate pests funded as part the government's Biodiversity Strategy, followed by investment in walking tracks, heritage trails and picnic areas," Mr Carter said.

"By removing pests, primarily stoats and mice, we will be able to relocate visitor-friendly native species, such as robin, South Island saddleback and kakariki (parakeets), to Blumine. Over the longer term, kiwi, geckos and long-tailed bats may follow. These species will join native land snails, kaka, weka and little blue penguins, already in residence.

"Unlike many other established island sanctuaries which are often isolated or surrounded by dangerous seas, it will be easy for people to get to Blumine and see their native species up close. The island is just an hour by boat from Picton," Mr Carter said.

"All 378 hectares of Blumine are, and will continue to be, open to the public at any time. Its regenerating native bush provides the potential for spectacular walkways, and the island has a rich history. It was once used as a military base and still contains a number of historic gun emplacements, observation posts, and magazines.

"The Department of Conservation (DOC) wants to build on this appeal and put Blumine on the map just like the Queen Charlotte Track, which draws 30,000 visitors a year, " Mr Carter said.

"We are ideally placed to do this because there already exists a constructive partnership between DOC and Christchurch-based lifestyle clothing company, Untouched World. A programme has grown out of this partnership which is enabling a growing number of school children to travel to Blumine," Mr Carter said.

"Untouched World sponsor students to spend a week on the island learning conservation and outdoor skills under the supervision of DOC staff. The programme provides education opportunities for young people and a labour force for restoration work on the island."

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