Date: 18 September 2009
The Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board Awards took place on Friday 18 September 2009 with two very different finalists going head to head for the top spot.
Denzel Kohi and Callum Kilgour-Aitken
clearing weeds to help the Ashley/Rakahuri
The award went to the Ashley/Rakahuri Rivercare Group which has been protecting braided river birds and their habitats in the Ashley riverbed since 1999. This river has been recognised as an internationally important wetland site with populations of declining, vulnerable and endangered bird species including black-fronted terns/tarapirohe, black-billed gulls/tarāpuka and wrybills/ngutu pare.
“The Ashley/Rakahuri Rivercare Group was chosen because of the depth of community involvement, the sustained protection and careful monitoring of the river birds and their habitat and for the group's educational outreach,” explained Board Chair, Steve Lowndes.
The group’s many tasks include signposting vulnerable breeding areas, monitoring bird numbers and breeding success, getting the local community involved and predator control.
Showing life-long commitment to conservation, finalists, Dr Gerry McSweeny and Anne Saunders, also impressed the judges with their model of sustainable land-management and ecotourism.
“The two finalists were very close and stood out in the final reckoning,” Lowndes commented.
“Gerry and Anne are undertaking excellent work to propagate native mistletoe and their involvement in conservation projects in the Waimakariri Basin really deserves recognition.”
This year the Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board received seven nominations for their annual conservation award. These included conservation projects from areas right across Canterbury Conservancy.
The awards committee drew up a shortlist based primarily on the quality of the initial application, the backup material provided, the length of time that the project had been running, and the conservation gains that had been achieved.
As part of this year’s Conservation Week, the winner was announced at a ceremony at Our City O-Tautahi.