Rotokare reserve pest protection to be extended to surrounding Taranaki farmland

Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust sanctuary manager Simon Collins with some of the predator traps that will be set up as ...
Petra Finer

Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust sanctuary manager Simon Collins with some of the predator traps that will be set up as part of the halo project.

Up to 1000 pest traps are to be placed in bushland surrounding the Rotokare Scenic Reserve as part of a $250,000 project to minimise the threat to its resident birdlife.

The project follows the success of work to eradicate pests such as rats and stoats from within the reserve, near Eltham, thanks to the erection in 2008 of a two-metre high fence enclosing 230 hectares.

Now, the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust is planning to extend its work to thousands of hectares of land surrounding the site, which is home to breeds such as kiwi, tieke, and whitehead.

"This is probably the single biggest and most exciting step taken since building the fence," reserve manager Simon Collins said. "It's extremely exciting."

"The targets are to have 1000 traps that are set on around 2,500 hectares of surrounding farmland."

Collins said there was a great deal of public engagement with the programme, with farmers checking traps on their properties and members of the public volunteering to keep an eye on whole sections.

"It's all about the community taking action and ownership of the ever increasing positive benefits of environmental protection," Collins said.

The project is called halo as it takes its name from the "halo effect" of wildlife spilling out from a pest-free sanctuary.

The program is designed to provide more protection for the wildlife inside, as well as the bird populations that are outgrowing the sanctuary.

"Multiple different species are going really well. There's a natural spillover as they disperse," he said. "The ultimate goal is to provide that protection to further flourish."

The project was launched on July 7 by environment minister Nick Smith, who announced a $158,000 Community Environment Fund grant had been awarded to Rotokare to support the volunteers' work.

At the time, he said the conservation work being done in Taranaki was something that could be copied in other regions.

 - Stuff

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