We can all help our en­vi­ron­ment

South Canterbury Herald - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - KIM­BER­LEY COLLINS

New Zealand is lucky to have beau­ti­ful land­scapes and amaz­ing wildlife. We are recog­nised in­ter­na­tion­ally for our di­verse plants and an­i­mals be­ing com­pletely unique and found nowhere else on earth.

Sadly many of our na­tive species and their habi­tats are in trou­ble. Just look at our muchloved na­tive birds - one in three species is at risk of ex­tinc­tion.

Here in South Can­ter­bury that in­cludes the cu­ri­ous kea, and braided river birds like black­billed gulls, wry­bills, and kakı¯.

Even if you’re cyn­i­cal about the value of na­ture, there’s no ar­gu­ing with the num­bers.

Our wildlife and wild places are a ma­jor part of the rea­son we have 3.5 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors con­tribut­ing $15 bil­lion to the econ­omy ev­ery year.

We should all love our na­tive species be­cause they are so

‘‘Even if you’re cyn­i­cal about the value of na­ture, there’s no ar­gu­ing with the num­bers.’’

uniquely New Zealand. From noc­tur­nal par­rots that can’t fly, to car­niv­o­rous snails, and even par­a­sitic plants.

They’re all some­thing we should be proud of.

So how can the av­er­age per­son help? Try some of th­ese easy tips to pro­tect na­ture lo­cally and at home in your own back­yard.

Per­haps the big­gest chal­lenge for our na­tive wildlife is be­ing killed and eaten by in­tro­duced preda­tors like rats, stoats, and pos­sums.

You can help by set­ting traps and en­cour­ag­ing your neigh­bours to do the same. Rats are the eas­i­est to tar­get.

Buy a Vic­tor rat trap (found at most hard­ware stores) and set 2 - 3 in your yard. The best place to put traps is on flat sur­faces un­der cover and near walls - my busiest traps are next to the com­post bin.

If one in five houses traps for rats, you can re­move them com­pletely from a neigh­bour­hood or sub­urb.

Across New Zealand, peo­ple are do­ing this, and there have even been whole sub­urbs de­clared rat-free.

There are plenty of ways to get in­volved in South Can­ter­bury. Whether you fancy trap­ping, weed­ing, plant­ing, or even sewing bags to re­duce waste. On the first Satur­day of each month, you can join For­est & Bird for a field trip to Kakahu Bush.

If you pre­fer to stay in­doors, join a Boomerang Bags work­ing bee to make re­us­able bags from re­cy­cled ma­te­rial.

Kids can also get in­volved with the Kiwi Con­ser­va­tion Club for field trips to learn about eels, bats, birds, and more.

It’s con­tro­ver­sial, I know, but cats are do­ing more harm to na­tive wildlife than most re­alise - and that in­cludes the well fed ones. By set­ting a kitty cur­few and keep­ing cats in­side at night, you can re­duce their im­pact.

There are other ben­e­fits as well - you’re less likely to get presents on the door­mat and you can sleep soundly know­ing your cat is safely at home and off the roads.

Although our lives can get busy, there’s al­ways an easy way to con­trib­ute. If we all do our best to pro­tect na­ture, and do our bit, we can make a big dif­fer­ence.

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