Community conservation in Rēkohu/Wharekauri/the Chatham Islands is receiving a boost, with grants to support local projects announced today by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.
“Rēkohu/Wharekauri/ the Chatham Islands are home to 20 per cent of New Zealand’s threatened bird species and 11 per cent of New Zealand’s threatened plant species. The islands have the highest level of endemism of any of New Zealand’s biogeographic regions with many species unique to the Chathams and found nowhere else in the world,” said Eugenie Sage, who is currently visiting Rēkohu/Wharekauri/the Chathams.
“I’m pleased to announce a total of $111,695 has been allocated from the Department of Conservation’s Community Conservation Fund to support four community-driven projects, which will help protect threatened native birds and plants by restoring habitat and enhancing pest control efforts.
“These rare species include the parea (Chatham island pigeon), Chatham Island tui, threatened shorebirds such as tāiko and the many threatened plant species such as nau/Cook’s scurvy grass which are unique to Rēkohu/Wharekauri/the Chatham Islands.
“Rēkohu/Wharekauri/ the Chathams share similar conservation challenges to the rest of New Zealand – including loss of native habitat and predation by introduced species. But in the detail they are also unique, and having locals who truly understand the at-place challenges leading conservation work is incredibly valuable.”
Rēkohu/Wharekauri/ the Chatham Islands are about 800 kilometres east of the South Island and include two pest free island nature reserves, Mangere and Rangatira, home to the black robin.
“I have been lucky to spend some time in this remarkable and beautiful place. It has been great to learn more about how passionate local residents are about looking after this special place.
“The enthusiasm of the people driving these projects is impressive. I look forward to seeing what these groups achieve for conservation and for their home,” said Eugenie Sage.
The funded projects will protect forest remnants, revegetate and restore ecosystems including freshwater habitats, and create nature corridors that will allow native species to move across the island and repopulate new areas.
One project, an initiative of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust, includes trials on trap and lure technology to target rats, one of the focus species of Predator Free 2050 and a major problem on Rēkohu/Wharekauri/ the Chatham Islands.
Towards a predator free Rēkohu/Wharekauri/Chatham Islands
The Hokotehi Moriori Trust are running a project towards a predator free Chatham Islands, which has received $9,000. They will be conducting trials to innovate and adapt existing trap and lure technology targeting rats. Initial trials will be conducted along the eastern seaboard of the main Chatham Island. Trials will include kopi oil lures using oil derived from kopi berries, a favourite food of rats in summer and autumn. These trials are part of work that will be extended into a large-scale predator free Chathams project.
Lake Huro and Te Whanga Lagoon Corridor
Te Matarae Family Trust’s Lake Huro and Te Whanga Lagoon Corridor project has received $50,695.00. The project will protect forest remnants on the Lake Huro north east shore and Te Whanga Lagoons western shore, including 10 hectares of Chatham Island swamp akeake-karamu forest under Nature Heritage Covenants. It will create a nature corridor between the lakes, supporting species like parea and Chatham Island fantail. Trapping the lake shores as well as the corridor will ensure a significant barrier to cats, rats and possums travelling through the middle section of the Island, supporting the Pest Free initiation in coming years.
Holmes Family Nature Corridor
The Holmes Family Nature Corridor project is organised by Robert and Jan Holmes and has received $37,000. Robert and Jan Holmes aim to provide a substantial bush area on their property in the centre of the Chatham Island for bird life to have safe, direct access to move north and populate other areas. This will be achieved through fencing off 4 km to exclude livestock from 59.66 hectares, protecting bush and wetlands and retiring land from grazing for native regeneration.
Taupeka Revegetation Project
Catherine Mary Thomas has received a grant of $15,000 for the Taupeka Revegetation Project. The grant will fund the purchase of Chatham Island native trees for revegetating six hectares along the northern coast. This culturally significant site has been partly protected under Nga Whenua Rahui and is a critical location as it links areas of habitat north of Te Whanga lagoon. Plantings will help create nature corridors, allowing native birds to migrate and establish in the northern part of the island. Whanau and tamariki mokopuna will be involved in the planting programme.
DOC Community Conservation Fund
The DOC Community Conservation Fund was established in 2014 to support community-led conservation projects on public and private land. Funds are directed towards practical projects aimed at conserving New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity. This includes initiatives focused on restoring natural habitats and populations of our native species. More than $25 million has been awarded to 400 different conservation projects in the first four funding rounds.