Amanda Baird with Al Morrison and
the Loder Cup
Amanda Baird wins Loder Cup
Overcoming considerable obstacles in order to help some of New Zealand’s rarest plants has resulted in Chatham’s Island’s Department of Conservation ecologist Amanda Baird, becoming 2007’s recipient of the country’s premier conservation award, the Loder Cup.
The Cup’s recipient is decided each year by the Minister of Conservation. The Hon Steve Chadwick described Ms Baird’s achievement as outstanding. “Ms Baird is responsible for a total of 15% of New Zealand’s most vulnerable native plant species. Her efforts have resulted in huge gains in the protection of native flora of the Chatham Islands; referred to by some locals as ‘the threatened plant capital of New Zealand”.
Since settling permanently in the Chatham Islands twelve years ago, Ms Baird has been at the forefront of the Mangere Island Nature Reserve restoration project. Mangere Island Nature Reserve is home to many rare plants and animals, including the Cook’s scurvey grass, diesffenbach’s speargrass and the black robin.
A staggering 70,000 native seedlings have been planted in what is described as ‘one of the toughest restoration programme locations, logistically and environmentally, in New Zealand’.
Access to remote Mangere Island is via fishing boat, where Ms Baird and her team have spent weeks at a time in harsh conditions transforming a once grass-covered land into an emerging native forest.
Mrs Chadwick also praised Ms Baird’s commitment to building relationships with the local community. “Amanda has worked hard not only in the field but also in establishing relationships with the local community, both iwi and local landowners. The huge effort Amanda has put into these relationships has been a major catalyst in the establishment of a number of conservation covenants on the Chatham Islands”.
Ms Baird has been directly involved in 19 Nature Heritage Fund projects to covenant a total of 2,071 hectares of private land with high conservation values on the Chatham’s and initial funding for the re-vegetation programme on Mangere Island Nature Reserve.
An achievement Ms Baird is particularly proud of was obtaining funding for fencing and ongoing maintenance of fences around the protected areas. “The environment is so corrosive that it’s an ongoing and costly battle keeping fences maintained. However without them, the plants would never survive”.