Conservation work in the mānuka forests to protect the kiwi

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Michelle Impey, Executive Director of Save the Kiwi, is excited to work with Comvita on the conservation project.

PROVIDED

Michelle Impey, Executive Director of Save the Kiwi, is excited to work with Comvita on the conservation project.

North Island sites used for honey harvesting could soon be a home for kiwi fruit.

Mānuka honey company Comvita is working with conservation organization Save the Kiwi under a sponsorship deal to help provide a safer habitat for North Island birds.

Comvita has around 15 mānuka forests, mostly in the central North Island, and the first where work will start is at Makino Station, in around 1,400 hectares of hinterland near Raetihi in Ruapehu District. .

It is hoped that all Comvita properties will one day be safe habitats for Kiwis.

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Comvita’s safety and sustainability manager, Heather Johnson, said a kiwi fruit survey was carried out at the Makino station in 2021, which found there were bird species on the property. , which gave them the idea for this project, and they started a predator management plan.

She said they would start trapping and hoped they could reintroduce the kiwi to the property.

“We’ve done the basic survey, we’ll set the traps, then monitor the traps. Save the Kiwi are the experts, we work with them to help them.

“They indicated that it takes about five years to become a safe habitat for kiwis, and not free of predators.”

She said they would like to be able to bring the birds to the area in four or five years and see the population increase.

Comvita managing director David Banfield said working with Save the Kiwi helps the company fulfill its corporate responsibilities.

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Comvita managing director David Banfield said working with Save the Kiwi helps the company fulfill its corporate responsibilities.

Stoats and ferrets are their main trapping targets and there are already a few people living on the property who will be able to start the work.

The project is part of Comvita’s “harmony plan” which has goals of sustainability, biodiversity enhancement and community support.

The partnership will enable Comvita’s mānuka forests, many of which are already inhabited by kiwis, to become sanctuaries for the species through predator management plans, trapping and the ability for staff to log in in the program.

Save the Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey said working with Comvita was a new and exciting approach to kiwifruit conservation.

“Effective predator control is critical to successful kiwifruit conservation and creating sanctuaries free of stoats, ferrets and other predators is extremely labor intensive.

“Comvita has a number of properties, many of which are already home to kiwifruit, and it’s been so exciting to work alongside them and educate them on how we can help taonga species thrive in the future.”

Comvita will provide annual support for these programs, including purchasing and overseeing traps at its properties, and offering its staff the opportunity to connect with Save the Kiwi.

Comvita has many mānuka forests in the central North Island.

PROVIDED

Comvita has many mānuka forests in the central North Island.

Comvita’s chief executive, David Banfield, said the partnership takes significant steps towards fulfilling Comvita’s responsibilities as a business.

“Everything we do at Comvita is guided by our founding principle of kaitiakitanga, or guardianship and protection of nature, and this underpins our work to create those sanctuaries that, over time, will allow the kiwi fruit to flourish. “

He said it balances out their other harmony projects, which the company aims to continue building through these types of conservation and community efforts.

“We believe that we have a contribution to make and that by undertaking these initiatives, we are living our values ​​and taking the steps necessary to be the type of company we want to be.”

Comvita dedicates 1% of its gross revenue to harmony partnerships. It has already committed $151,000 to Harmony Partnerships in the first half of 2022.

The company has also worked with For the Love of Bees, Saving the Wild and others.

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