The group of volunteers that make up the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust are getting used to winning recognition for their work.
The latest was in the Recreation Volunteers section of the Encore Awards, presented last week.
The Greater Wellington Regional Council, the Department of Conservation's Wellington Hawke's Bay Conservancy and the Wellington Hawke's Bay Conservation Board developed the awards to honour sustained commitment to environmental restoration, biodiversity and conservation in the region.
"This is our second Encore Award but this one is special because it recognises our volunteers," said trust vice president Rosemary Thompson. "We run entirely on volunteers and it's lovely their enthusiasm, dedication and many hours of work are being acknowledged."
It's been a year for prizes for the trust, which works to protect and restore natural vegetation and wildlife over 3000 hectares of rugged terrain.
A group of 80 to 100 volunteers from throughout the region trap pests, track and handle kiwi, repair and assemble traps, and conduct dog aversion training and weed control.
Monitoring of the area shows a rise in whiteheads, tomtits, kereru, robins and kiwis, Mrs Thompson said.
Earlier this year the trust's work won a Wild At Heart Award and also picked up one of 15 grants of $500 from Clive's Chemist Wainuiomata, marking the business's 15th anniversary.
Another highlight was the recent introduction of a trust mascot - Rimu.
"We spent a day at Queensgate last month handing out pamphlets and promoting the trust, trying to raise our profile . . . We're one of the best kept secrets in Wellington - many people still don't know there are wild kiwi over in Wainuiomata."
The trust operates three main projects: The Kiwi Project, the Catchpool Restoration Project and Restore the Dawn Chorus.
Volunteers monitor a stoat and rat trapping network across the 3000 hectares.
A small, dedicated team of kiwi trackers and handlers spend many hours in the bush monitoring the birds' activity.
"The kiwi is our national icon, and having a population of wild birds so close to where people live is a great source of pride with the area."
Last year 111 stoats, 449 rats, 92 hedgehogs and 76 possums were removed from the two project areas. So far this season volunteers have already removed 104 stoats, 394 rats, 53 hedgehogs and 67 possums, with the peak season still to come.
GWRC chairwoman Fran Wilde said there had been some great biodiversity wins at a local level, as a result of communities taking responsibility for biodiversity on their patch.
"It's thanks to all of us working together - regional and local councils, the Department of Conservation, the Animal Health Board, and communities - that pest numbers in our region's forests are low, native forests are regenerating and much more forest is being planted."
Meanwhile, an Excellence in Compliance Award went to TIC Golf Projects Ltd and Royal Wellington Golf Club. The impact of redeveloping the Royal Wellington Golf Course was minimised through sediment control, extensive streamside plantings, wetlands to control stormwater runoff and improve the look of the site, and rock lining of a stream channel to provide for fish passage.
Upper Hutt Forest & Bird won recognition for its Hull's Creek Restoration Project, which is transforming the stream and encouraging the return of aquatic animals and fish.
- Hutt News