Con­ser­va­tion Fes­ti­val im­presses

The Northland Age - - Local News -

North­land re­gional coun­cil­lor Mike Fin­layson was im­pressed by the in­au­gu­ral Con­ser­va­tion Fes­ti­val on Pai­hia’s Vil­lage Green.

The fes­ti­val, which fea­tured del­i­ca­cies in­clud­ing mut­ton and pos­sum ‘pos­sages’, at­tracted guest speak­ers from as far away as Can­ter­bury, a plethora of com­mu­nity groups, and a posse of con­ser­va­tion dogs trained to sniff out stoats, kiwi, and even Ar­gen­tine ants.

The event was or­gan­ised by Stella Sch­mid, of Bay Bush Ac­tion, and Pa­p­atu¯a¯nuku Earth Mother Tours, to bring to­gether the many dif­fer­ent groups in­volved in con­ser­va­tion in the North, Mr Fin­layson say­ing it was part of a bril­liant week­end-long il­lus­tra­tion of the care and con­cern that local peo­ple were demon­strat­ing for their en­vi­ron­ment.

“I was amazed at how many dif­fer­ent groups were pas­sion­ately in­volved in pro­tect­ing their en­vi­ron­ment in one way or an­other,” he said.

“Bay Bush Ac­tion is a team of about 25 ded­i­cated trap­pers pro­tect­ing na­tive species on 250ha out the back of Pai­hia. But they re­alise there is a huge amount of work still to be done, so they or­gan­ised this event for the com­mu­nity in the hope that we can band to­gether and try to ‘turn the curve’ in de­clin­ing kiwi and other na­tive species.”

Kiwi Coast, which was sup­ported by the NRC, now had 122 Land­care groups work­ing to­gether along North­land’s east coast to pro­vide a safe habi­tat for Kiwi and all other na­tive crea­tures.

It had em­ployed a sec­ond co-or­di­na­tor to sup­port outreach into the cen­tre and west of North­land, that weren’t cur­rently re­ceiv­ing the at­ten­tion they de­served.

Any­one who wanted to sup­port or be in­volved in that ex­pan­sion should con­tact Andrew Men­tor ([email protected]­wicoast.org.nz).

Mean­while, For­est and Bird had a ‘wasp woman’ at the fes­ti­val, who high­lighted the dam­age that Ger­man and com­mon wasps could do.

“Small preda­tors are not of­ten taken se­ri­ously enough, and it’s ob­vi­ous that we need to do more to curb these crit­ters,” Mr Fin­layson said.

“The good news is that Project Is­land Song, which is bring­ing na­tive birds back to is­lands in the Bay, is so suc­cess­ful that kakariki and other birds that have been rein­tro­duced af­ter many years’ ab­sence, are breed­ing so well that they are spread­ing out and of­ten com­ing back to the main­land.

“We are so for­tu­nate to have these preda­tor-free is­lands, and hol­i­day-mak­ers should take ex­tra care not to have rats or other nas­ties on board when they visit them this sum­mer,” Mr Fin­layson said.

PIC­TURE / PETER DE GRAAF

DoC con­ser­va­tion dog han­dlers Miriam Ritchie (Whanga¯ rei), Fin Buchanan and Ade­line Bos­man (Auck­land), with their ca­nine col­leagues.

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