Fox­ton wildlife cen­tre seeks sup­port

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENVIRONMENT - BY JOHN GIR­LING, WILDLIFE FOX­TON TRUST To find out more and to sup­port the pro­ject, visit our web­site wildlife­fox­

Why would Fox­ton be an ideal place for a wildlife cen­tre?

It was a ques­tion to care­fully con­sider be­fore es­tab­lish­ing the Wildlife Fox­ton Trust.

New Zealand has a fas­ci­nat­ing va­ri­ety of na­tive fish, birds, rep­tiles and in­sects. How­ever, it is im­por­tant to know the dif­fer­ence be­tween in­tro­duced and na­tive species, es­pe­cially as many in­tro­duced species are preda­tors. Hav­ing an en­vi­ron­ment linked ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre for peo­ple of all ages is one way of meet­ing this need.

As many of our na­tive species are en­dan­gered, the trust is also work­ing on breed­ing-for-re­lease-back­into-the-wild in an at­tempt to pre­serve our unique species.

So, we de­cided to es­tab­lish a cen­tre to show na­tive fish, crus­tacea, in­sects and mol­luscs from the moun­tain to the sea; a free-flight aviary to high­light our na­tive birds; and a place to dis­play our fas­ci­nat­ing range of rep­tiles – New Zealand is home to more than 90 species of lizard.

And there are good rea­sons for hav­ing a cen­tre like this in Fox­ton.

Fox­ton is home to the in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised Ram­sar site in the Manawatu Es­tu­ary. This unique area hosts about 95 dif­fer­ent species of birds some of which like the god­wit, use it as a tem­po­rary home be­fore fly­ing off to Siberia. Nine­tyeight per cent of Manawatu’s wet­lands no longer ex­ist, mak­ing the area es­pe­cially im­por­tant.

Manawatu’s orig­i­nal gate­way port and once the heart of a thriv­ing flax in­dus­try, Fox­ton has a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing mu­se­ums in­clud­ing the Flax Mu­seum and MavTech – which houses the largest col­lec­tion of au­dio­vi­sual equip­ment in the south­ern hemi­sphere with movies and mu­sic dat­ing back to be­fore WW2.

The site for the Wildlife Fox­ton cen­tre on the river loop at the cor­ner of Main, Union and Har­bour streets, is based around com­mer­cial build­ings in a large ex­panse of con­crete. Pic­ture in­stead a tree-cov­ered plaza, walk-in aviaries, ter­rar­i­ums (for the lizards), large aquar­i­ums, a cafe and gift shop.

The cen­tre will help Fox­ton be­come a ‘des­ti­na­tion’ for visi­tors from home and abroad.

The Trustees of Wildlife Fox­ton Trust, (left to right) John Gir­ling, John Baird, Graham Carthew, Alastair Cole and Dr. Bob Hoskins [ab­sent is John Bradley], and the boat do­nated to the com­mu­nity by the Eas­ton fam­ily and shared with Save Our River Trust (SORT) and the Manawatu Es­tu­ary Trust.

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