Project Taranaki Mounga, a ten year $24 million project involving pest eradication and reintroduction of species over the 34,000ha of Egmont National Park has been given the green light with a funding commitment by the NEXT Foundation today.
The venture between the NEXT Foundation, DOC, iwi, and the Taranaki community, will begin with pest and weed control and the ecological restoration of Egmont National Park and a small number of volcanic peaks and offshore islands.
The NEXT Foundation and DOC have committed to funding the first phase of 18 months with strong interest from other parties. DOC has committed just over $1.6 million for the first phase.
Work will start on phase one in February next year and during the 18 months the project will:
- complete a goat eradication feasibility plan
- develop a translocation strategy for black petrel; patēke, kākā, kākāriki, takahē, kōkako and short tailed bats .
- develop a pest reinvasion monitoring regime;
- extend the predator trapping network to protect birds particularly whio and kiwi.
- translocate North Island robin into the park
DOC Director General Lou Sanson says he is thrilled Project Taranaki Mounga has been given a green light with the commitment of funding from the NEXT Foundation.
“Project Taranaki Mounga has been recognised as one of the next big exciting and bold conservation ventures,” says Lou Sanson.
The project’s vision is to ‘protect our mountain for our wellbeing – Ko Taranaki tooku whakaruruhau’.
“Given the strong Iwi connection and Whakapapa to Taranaki Mounga, Iwi are a critical partner in the successful delivery of this project.
Lou says the project will create a legacy of cultural, environmental and economic benefits for generations to come.
“Healthy flourishing ecosystems will sustain the quality and abundance of freshwater underpinning the Taranaki economy which adds to New Zealand’s image, and showcases this country’s leadership in pest eradication.
“It’s exciting knowing lessons learnt in Taranaki will be able to be transferred to even larger landscapes when successful,” says Lou.
About Project Taranaki Mounga
Project Taranaki Mounga is in two parts with four key objectives. The first two objectives will be tackled by the on-mountain consortium of NEXT Foundation, DOC, Iwi and other investors.
DOC’s Taranaki Partnership Manager Darryn Ratana says getting rid of goats and significantly reducing other animal and weed pests and their impacts from Taranaki Mounga is the first objective.
“Achieving this would give us the first deer, pig and goat free New Zealand National Park, as the Park is already free of deer and pigs” says Darryn Ratana.
“With significant investment in pest control on the mounga and around the park we will be able to create an environment to achieve the second goal of the project, the reintroduction of lost species and the strengthening of existing threatened species populations.
“We have proven we have tools in place to reintroduce lost species, with the successful re-establishment of a healthy whio population in the national park over the past eight years.
“With the help of community groups carrying out intensive trapping and monitoring our whio population has gone from zero to around 100 birds and growing.
“The next species to come back will be North Island Robin which we are bringing back to the national park in the first 18 months,” he says.
Two further objectives will be the focus of investment by collaborative supporters still under development.
They are supporting the creation of a pest control halo to protect the perimeter of the national park and creating opportunities for health, environmental and general education benefits - the Oranga Mounga Oranga Tangata - Healthy Nature Healthy People objective.
Note: Mounga is the local spelling of the Māori word maunga.
Large scale conservation
Project Taranaki Mounga is the next step in NEXT Foundation’s plan to establish models of large scale environmental conservation in New Zealand. Project Taranaki Mounga follows on from the success of other NEXT Foundation related investments, such as creating a conservation park out of Rotoroa Island and Project Janszoon, a privately funded 30 year ecological restoration of Abel Tasman National Park.
Project Taranaki Mounga will also make use of the technologies developed by the NEXT Foundation-funded Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) programme such as novel traps and automated monitoring.