DOC wins international honours for conservation
DOC wins international honours for conservation work
The economic and environmental benefits of two of the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) major conservation projects have won the department international awards.
DOC has picked up the international Parks Forum’s ‘Economic Award’ at a conference in Sydney for its role in establishing and developing the Otago Central Rail Trail.
“The Otago Central Rail Trail is a great example of how investing in conservation programmes results in a real economic spin off for the whole community,” says Kevin O’Connor, General Manager of Research and Development for DOC.
DOC, together with the Otago Central Rail Trail Charitable Trust community, developed the Rail Trail 10 years ago. A recent study indicates about 20,000 cyclists use the trail a year and it contributes more than $7 million per annum to the Central Otago community.
“By stepping out with the community we’ve helped turn a disused rail line into a popular bike trail – we’ve conserved a community asset and also added real economic value to many local businesses and communities along the way”
Mr O’Connor said the Rail Trail project shows the potential of positive partnerships with local businesses and reinforces the importance of DOC’s recent move to set up a Commercial Business Unit to improve engagement with businesses on conservation projects.
DOC has also won recognition from the Parks Forum conference for its large scale pest eradication project launched last year on Auckland’s iconic Rangitoto and Motutapu islands.
The ambitious programme to remove all imported pests from the islands and create a sanctuary on Auckland’s doorstep for native birds and plants is one of the largest and most complex island pest eradication programmes DOC has undertaken.
“The $3.5 million dollar investment has already seen the return of rare native birds to the islands and is providing the platform for a host of tourism and recreation opportunities – from multi-sport events to eco-tours.
“These islands provide the breathing space for our biggest city – we know what this project is worth to Auckland and it is very satisfying to see our peers overseas recognise that as well,” Mr O’Connor said.
The Parks Forum is an international organisation for park management organisations, with members across the UK , Australia and New Zealand involved in the management and promotion of wilderness, and protected areas and parks.