Sanctuary mulls long term

The team behind the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary has not only been raising money but mustering strategic partnerships to help cement its long-term success.

In a presentation to Tasman councillors last week, the sanctuary's general manager Hudson Dodd and chairman Dave Butler said it had so far raised $4.5 million and sought to secure a further $200,000 to fund pest eradication once the project's pest-proof fence was built. The current cost of the fence was around $4.2m.

The sanctuary recently secured $1.25m from the Lotteries Grants special projects board and Dodd said it would formally approach the council soon to uplift its funding of $150,000 for the current financial year.

The trust's public Get Behind the Fence campaign had so far raised $260,000 and community support for the project was also reflected in the 300-strong pool of volunteers, 40 per cent of whom came from the Tasman region, he said.

However, it acknowledged concerns raised by some in the community.

Earlier in the meeting's public forum Mike Rodwell and Malcolm Saunders asked councillors if they felt funding the sanctuary was a priority issue.

Rodwell was concerned about the fence's proximity to the Dunn Mountain walkway and asked how the trust planned to stop predators entering the sanctuary via the "robust" stream which ran under the pest-proof fence.

Saunders said the money would be better spent on solving Richmond's stormwater problems.

Butler said similar national sanctuaries used screened boxed culverts, post-storm inspections and alarmed mobile floodgates to stop pests from using waterways as access points.

On top of its memorandum of understanding signed with the Tasman Bays Heritage Trust/Nelson Provincial Museum for the joint delivery of education programming, the trust was also finalising similar agreements with the Department of Conservation and Project Janszoon.

Butler said not only were they all working in the same fields of biodiversity and restoration but it made sense for the trust to partner with like entities, particularly Project Janszoon, when it came to applying to translocate new species.

Butler said Waimarama was breaking new ground as it headed into the future, which would eventually see populating native species spread from the sanctuary into Mt Richmond Forest Park.

Butler and Dodd also attended a community services committee meeting at the Nelson City Council confirming what funding they had secured.

The committee had received a report from council staff yesterday highlighting the risks involved with the sanctuary project.

Dodd assured Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese that the trust "has diligently pursuing funding from various other places . . . and will continue to do so".

"We have done a very robust business case that seeks to become self-sustaining," he said.

Reese said there were risks with any venture and the Nelson community, the minister of conservation, and the Lottery Grants Board had got behind the project. She said the project was at a point where "we want it to go ahead" and it had been well analysed.

However, council acting group manager for the environment Greg Carlyon said it would be remiss of the council to ignore the risk of the project and he was "not reassured that those risks are removed".

He said there was a potential for a $250,000 shortfall each year and all publicly excluded information should be put in the public domain.