From forest to sea, Bay of Plenty conservation groups work to help nature thrive

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The Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku group in action. Photo / Provided

From the heights of Kaimai to the long stretch of coastline, groups across the region are working for a better environment.

With last week being Conservation Week, the Bay of Plenty Times looked at what some local groups were doing.

Conservation Week 2022 ran from September 5-11 and this year the focus was on taking action for nature.

Forest & Bird have been busy, including protecting the New Zealand Dotterel.

Efforts have focused on nesting sites at Pāpāmoa Beach, and branch president Carole Long said an important site had eroded at Panepane Point and small birds were looking for other safe sites.

Several groups are working to help boost the New Zealand Dotterel in the Bay of Plenty.  Picture/file
Several groups are working to help boost the New Zealand Dotterel in the Bay of Plenty. Picture/file

Mount Maunganui’s main beach was a bit of a hit as it was dog-free and the Department of Conservation (DoC) had installed lightweight fencing to keep people away from nests.

Long says while Forest & Bird worked with the councils, iwi and DoC, no chicks survived Pāpāmoa Beach last year.

“There is a pair of New Zealand Dotterel on hand in breeding plumage and we are planning pest control and the erection of fences to let people know where these precious little birds need our help.”

Residents and staff at retirement villages along the coast near the site are eager to help, Long said.

Other ongoing conservation work is the restoration of kiwifruit in Otanewainuku Forest, habitat improvement for the Kokako in areas between Rotorua and Te Puke, pest control and bird conservation in Aongatete, and restoration of a quarry site on protected land at the top of No 3 Rd, where a Forest & Bird field trip discovered a very rare native frog. The extended site is now a sanctuary for the protection of these Hochstetter frogs.

Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku Trust chief executive Louise Saunders said the entity was created after 12 years of community concern that the forests were unhealthy.

The Kaimai Mamaku restoration project was announced in September 2020, with $19.4 million in funding through the Mahi o te Taiao/Jobs for Nature program.

Saunders said the trust deals with iwi and hapū-led conservation projects through the Kaimai Mamaku, which includes pest animal and weed control, and kauri protection.

There was a “huge” project area, and the trust was working to collaborate with existing community groups.

It was in his early days, but Saunders was excited about the progression over the next 12 months.

She said conservation and restoration was important for forests for a number of reasons, including the impact it had on the economy and on community health and recreation. The health of forests has impacted the health of rivers and oceans.

The New Zealand Dotterel and other shorebirds are also cared for and protected in Maketu, and the local conservation group looks after Pukehina Beach and other nearby wetlands.

The Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society has held worker bees about every two months, secretary and education officer Janie Stevenson said, with the next Sunday at the Pukehina Esplanade Reserve. Volunteers planted plants appropriate for the area.

In addition to animal and plant pest control, planting days and wildlife monitoring, he has also worked with school groups.

Last week the children Te Kura o Te Matai and Te Akau ki Pāpāmoa helped out at Tumu Kawa Wetland.

The groups helped with planting as well as monitoring wetlands, including freshwater insects.

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