Introduction

The Manawatu Branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association (NZDA) has been granted funding to write a ten year protection plan for Whio (blue duck) in the Oroua catchment.

Date:  15 June 2009

Although filling out paperwork doesn’t come naturally to many “land-lovers”, the effort and dedication of local conservation groups has paid off, with grants from the December 2008 round of the Biodiversity Fund going to several projects in the district to enhance biological diversity.

The Biodiversity Fund is a government initiative to enhance management of indigenous biodiversity on private land. Applications are invited twice a year from private landowners and community groups for projects aimed at improving or maintaining the condition of indigenous vegetation, species and habitats.

Tagged whio/blue duck.
Tagged whio/blue duck

The Manawatu Branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association (NZDA) has been granted funding to write a ten year protection plan for Whio (blue duck) in the Oroua catchment, and to contribute to a monitoring programme that will assist with the long-term goal of a self-sustaining population of 50 breeding pair of Whio in the Oroua River. Stuart Penny, secretary of the Manawatu Deerstalkers, says “we were delighted to get the Biodiversity fund grant as it means the Oroua Valley Blue Duck protection program can get off to a good solid start. Being able to accurately monitor the blue duck recovery from the beginning is crucial.” The application process is quite simple. “We heard about the availability of the grant from one of our members and it was just a matter of filling out a form and hoping”, says Mr Penny.

The Te One Bush Restoration Project has received a grant to assist with the restoration of a 14 hectare remnant of podocarp/red beech forest in the Kawhatau Valley. The area is protected through a QEII Covenant. The landowners are working with community groups such as Forest & Bird and Horizons Regional Council to restore this rare terrace forest. The funds will help pay for weed control, fencing and seed-raising for future plantings. This is the second grant from the Biodiversity Fund to assist with the restoration of this block.

Warratah wetland, a 3 hectare QEII covenanted area in Woodville, was granted funding to assist with eradication of crack willow. Ruth Fleeson, the Horizons Environmental Plant Officer for the Woodville area,  is involved in this project and says although Warratah Wetland is small, it is very important “It is one of the few remaining places in the Tararua district that has swamp maire. It also contains several healthy common mistletoes, which are now protected from possums with metal sheet bands.” Miss Fleeson says the Biodiversity Fund grant will help to further control willow and allow regeneration of native species. “The willows had invaded the northern end and were spreading throughout, reducing the ability of the native trees to flourish, and reducing habitat for native animal species”, she explains.

Broadlands wetland in Ashhurst was granted funds that will be used to fence off this nationally significant habitat on the Manawatu Plains. The depleted wetland is classified as a swamp forest and is the largest of its type in the area, covering 8 hectares. Horizons Regional Council Environmental Plant Officer Neil Gallagher submitted the funding application. “Broadlands wetland is now ranked as one of the top 50 wetlands in the region. We should be able to do more fencing and possum control work next year since we now have the ball rolling”, says Mr Gallagher.

Staff from the Department of Conservation’s Palmerston North Area Office are pleased to see so many local groups and projects applying for and getting biodiversity funds. “A lot of people involved in conservation projects are hands-on, outdoors people” says Community Relations Manager Margaret Metcalfe, “but it goes to show that a little bit of time and effort spent inside completing the paperwork can really pay off”.

The thirteenth funding round is now open. Ms Metcalfe hopes that the success of local applicants in the last round will encourage other groups to try this time. “If you are looking for funds to help with a conservation project, give the Biodiversity Fund staff a call - they are happy to talk potential applicants through the process”, she advises.  For guidance on the application process, visit www.doc.govt.nz/biodiversityfunds or call 0800 862020. Applications must be received before 3pm Wednesday 1st July 2009. Notification of the outcome of this next round is expected around October 2009.

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