Taranaki Daily News

Funding boost for fight against pests

- Mike Watson

Three kiwi conservati­on projects in Taranaki will receive $2m government funding over the next four years for predator control, conservati­on and training.

The three projects - Te Kōhanga Āhuru pest control, Experience Purangi kiwi conservati­on, and a training programme – will provide work for 40 people to help protect more than 12,200ha of predator managed forest in the region.

The funding has been provided by the Jobs for Nature scheme, allocated by the Department of Conservati­on, to the Kiwis for kiwi charity group, which distribute­s to kiwi conservati­on groups nationwide.

The latest funding comes on top of a recent $750,000 boost, also from Jobs for Nature, to employ six staff with the Taranaki Regional Council’s Towards Predator-Free Taranaki project to eradicate pests. The four projects are independen­t but complement each other’s work.

Te Kōhanga Āhuru pest control involves three North Taranaki iwi – Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Maru.

Te Kōhanga Āhuru project administra­tor Marlene Benson said the project would create sustainabl­e employment for the wider whānau and hapū , and ensure that the forests within their rohe are safe for kiwi.

The three iwi involved in the project have a deep attachment to the land, she said.

Experience Purangi conservati­on trust general manager Rebecca Somerfield said the funding would allow the East Taranaki Environmen­t Trust to expand pest control boundaries out 5775ha to 18,775ha, and 15 future staff.

There are now 4500 kiwi within the boundary, with numbers increasing 9 per cent annually.

Both projects will use the third funding component, a Kiwis for kiwi-led kiwi monitoring and handling training programme.

Kiwis for kiwi western region coordinato­r and programme administra­tor Michelle Bird said there was a focus on mana whenua and field workers working in predator control, forestry, and site-led conservati­on.

Department of Conservati­on Taranaki operations manager Gareth Hopkins said local DOC staff worked closely with iwi to get these projects off the ground.

Taranaki Regional Council environmen­t services manager Steve Ellis said the Towards Predator-Free Taranaki funding was a timely boost.

The 12-month funding was awarded to the TRC by Crownowned Predator Free 2050 Limited, through the Jobs for Nature (Mahi mo¯ te Taiao) programme.

It will cover new staff and contractor wages, and equipment, vehicle and resource costs, to speed up efforts to remove predators and protect the region’s native flora and fauna, Ellis said.

The ‘‘zero possum’’ project with Taranaki Maunga Project (TMP) to eradicate possums from 4500ha of the Kaitake Ranges, farmland, and Oa¯ kura township was within reach, he said. New resources allocated to the project would speed up progress, he said.

Ellis said Towards Predator Free Taranaki is a community effort and the more people that do their bit, the better the results will be.

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