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Putting the green back into nature



Press Release


For immediate release - 2 December 2008

Putting the green back into nature

What do deerstalkers in the Manawatu, the Coromandel Area School Year Nine class and a group of neighbours in the Far North have in common?

They are all on a mission to protect nature in their backyard, and number amongst the nine groups that have been awarded grants in the latest funding round of WWF-New Zealand's Habitat Protection Fund.  WWF has distributed $139,000 in this funding round to a diverse range of community groups, all united by their common cause - conservation. 

WWF-New Zealand established its Habitat Protection Fund in 2000 in partnership with The Tindall Foundation to encourage and support communities' work to restore their local environment, providing the funds to make their project happen.  Since its launch, WWF has partnered with over 100 communities, providing over $1.4 million of vital conservation funds for groups the length and breadth of New Zealand. 

The Manawatu NZ Deerstalkers Association are taking action to halt the decline of the nationally threatened blueduck/whio in their region. After discovering that ducks were being killed by stoats the deerstalkers have begun trapping along the rivers in the Ruahine Ranges. Andrew Mercer, who helped start the project, is encouraged by how the local community have come on board. High levels of voluntary support have meant they have not had to employ a trapper. He is grateful to a class from Tararua High who has helped check stoat traps, and are now planning on making traps as part of their wood-work class. The WWF grant will contribute to buying materials for traps.

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Further North, WWF funding is helping Coromandel Area School Year Nine students learn how to monitor invertebrates in the Driving Creek Ecological restoration area. Coordinating teacher, Dorothy Meredith, is delighted with the funding, which has given the kids a chance to interact with nature on their doorstep. The students have built and installed pitfall traps and every thirty days four children head out to Driving Creek with teacher Conrad Ngapo to check the traps, and collect the invertebrates for identification and counting. The WWF grant will help the school cover set-up and running costs, as well as help fund a field-trip to the Maungatautari Ecological Sanctuary. With funding secured, the project is now well under way. "We've already had the kids off to Maungatautari to have a look there, and collected invertebrates twice in the local sanctuary," says Dorothy.

In the Far North, the team at Whakaangi Landcare Trust is all too aware of the impact dogs can make to kiwi populations. Northland kiwi have an average life expectancy of 14 years rather than the potential 50-60 because of dog predation. Thanks to funding from WWF, a program has begun to improve kiwis' chances of survival, initially focusing on kiwi aversion training for dogs. Lesley Baigent, a local vet, dog handler and trainer is delivering the program.

The first one-day training course grew into 3 days to meet demand from the community, with a staggering 76 dogs trained, and around 50 hunters taking part. Wendy Sporle, the trust's advisor is thrilled with the turnout: "It's absolutely remarkable - those must be record numbers!" Six courses are planned in the region over the next 12 months, with the next training day scheduled for 7 December.  Wendy asks that: "If you plan to take a dog to Northland during the holiday break, please ensure it does not go into areas where kiwi live and that you know where it is at all times."

Chris Howe, WWF-New Zealand's Executive Director is encouraged by the diverse range of people applying for the Habitat Protection Fund these days: "New Zealand has always enjoyed a strong tradition of conservation organisations. But increasingly, it's everyday people who are getting involved. These are people we are excited to support, people who have identified a need in their own backyard, and are taking action to respond to it. It shows how everyone has a part to play in protecting nature."

Along with these projects WWF-New Zealand has also given funding to six other projects;

·         The Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum undertaking invasive weed control on the peninsula

·         Te Rakato Social Services Charitable Trust, undertaking restoration plans for Lake Te Wairau in the Hawkes Bay

·         Pest eradication work on Great Barrier Island by Glenfern Sanctuary Charitable trust

·         Part funding for a park ranger to undertake monitoring work for saddleback and kiwi at Bushy Park in Wanganui

·         Predator control on the Taurikura Ridge by Whangarei Heads Landcare forum

·         Funding to help Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust build a predator proof fence for a kiwi crèche in Tauranga


The Habitat Protection Fund has two funding rounds each year. If you would like to apply for HPF funding for a local conservation project, go to www.wwf.org.nz  to find out more.


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