Weed control won out over trapping and solid waste disposal projects when the Ohau Conservation Trust was awarded the Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board Award by Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson last night.
The award was presented at a small ceremony as part of this year’s Conservation Week celebrations with the theme ‘Show you love New Zealand’.
“I am always in awe of the dedication and commitment shown by conservation groups around the country and so it is a pleasure to be able to acknowledge the work of the Ohau Conservation Trust,” said Kate Wilkinson.
Running for nearly seven years and involving around 40 people, members of the trust have devoted themselves to caring for and raising awareness about this special landscape.
“Enthusiasm is our main weapon,” says Ohau Conservation Trust member John Smithies.
“The region is in the midst of change wrought by the pressure of land use intensification…The bright spot [in all this change] can be seen in the Ohau valley and there is no doubt that in fair measure that bright spot can be attributed to the work of the Community Groups, particularly Ohau Conservation Trust.”
The group’s main focuses are wildling conifer eradication, briar eradication and planting natives on conservation land.
“This work is tough and time-consuming, but absolutely vital to protecting our unique species and places. Thank you for your hard work,” Kate Wilkinson acknowledged.
Other nominees for the award were the Hurunui College Nina Valley Restoration Group and Aoraki/Mount Cook Local Body Solid Waste Programme.
Mainly comprised of students from 11 to 18 years, the Hurunui College Nina Valley Restoration Group has been working for three years to re-establish wild kiwi populations in the Nina Valley. The group gained support from BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust, Air NZ Environment Trust ‘Kids Restore NZ as well as local businesses. Their work has focussed on trapping, predator monitoring, kiwi listening and telemetry.
Aoraki/Mount Cook Local Body Solid Waste Programme was nominated for its work to design and build a solid waste programme at Aoraki/Mount Cook. The programme aims to reduce the residual waste stream to 0% by 2015 by providing best practise in waste management and educating the park businesses, residents and visitors.
“This year’s nominees show a diverse range of conservation initiatives that seem to have at least one common theme; eradication – whether it’s pines, pests or poo!” Kate Wilkinson acknowledged in her award speech.
The wickedness of weeds was highlighted further when Weedbusters’ mascot ‘Woody Weed’ gate-crashed the celebrations to raise awareness of the project’s work.
“Weeds are one of the most serious threats to New Zealand’s biodiversity and can negatively impact farming, recreation, power generation and human health,” said Kate Wilkinson.
“It’s up to all of us to ensure we do not contribute to this problem or, better still, become part of the solution like the volunteers who form the Ohau Conservation Trust.”
Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board’s annual awards are open to conservation projects that show effective and efficient management of significant indigenous habitat, including regard to cultural and historical resources within the Canterbury Conservancy.
More information on the awards can be found by visiting: www.doc.govt.nz/cacbaward