Monday, February 28, 2011

March the month to tell New Zealand about the Star of the $10 bill

While the importance of protecting kiwi from extinction is well known throughout New Zealand, the fate of another iconic bird hangs in the balance.

Numbers of Whio, or native blue duck are dangerously low. With less than 3000 of the species left, the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Forest and Bird, Genesis Energy and the Central North Island Blue Duck Charitable Trust have joined forces to raise awareness of the native whio.

The highly endangered whio is not only unique to New Zealand but also unique among the waterfowl. It is unrelated to any duck elsewhere in the world and many of its habits are peculiar to the species. The whio is also an important indicator of the health of our fresh waterways.

March is Whio Awareness Month, please join Genesis Energy, DOC, Central North Island Blue Duck Charitable Trust and Forest & Bird and help us to raise awareness of the whio. See the Genesis Energy website for more details or email

If we help out now, the ten dollar note won’t be the only place we’ll be seeing whio in the future.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meeting project objectives

Kia Wharite is an integrated approach to managing 180,000 hectares of the Whanganui River catchment. The project has a number of outcomes that focus on improving the status of several threatened species, improving habitat condition and in the longer term water quality in sections of the Whanganui catchment. Essentially the project is about integrated management of a large section of the catchment. The key to the success of the project is
  • integrating the work of the Department of Conservation and Horizons Regional Council to most efficiently and effectively tackle the threats to species, habitats and water quality

  • the two agencies are working in partnership with iwi and landowners to maximise the effectiveness of programme delivery

In a practical sense this means a commitment to shared outcomes by DOC and Horizons and a consequent sharing of technical knowledge, skills and resources. Importantly this is being done across both public and private land as the threats to the catchment and its ecosystems are across land tenures. This means DOC, regional council and landowners operating as 'good neighbours', for example, through combined efforts in controlling possums, goats and fencing waterways.

Critical to the natural values of the catchment are

  • managing areas of forest to reduce forest degradation and erosion through pest control and fencing and

  • combining that with whole farm plans (delivered through regional council) which also look to reduce erosion, manage nutrient inputs and protect forest habitats.

Similarly threatened species programmes rely on managing pests across land tenures.

For example, in forested habitats DOC and Horizons are working on a combined approach that means goats are controlled by DOC on public land and on neighbouring areas of private land through Horizons. This has seen the area of the catchment under goat control increase substantially. This benefits both forest condition and reduces erosion. It also provides value to farmers where they have significant problems with large feral goat populations on their land.

The project has also sought to provide local training and skill development so that local people are contracted to carry out much of the practical work. There are economic gains through tourism based around wildlife, scenery, fishing and on farm experiences.In addition, the project is contributing to the maintenance of the ecosystem services provided by the catchment.

Some key numbers from last years project report:

  1. Area of forest under possum management - 103,538 ha

  2. Area of forest under aerial rat and stoat control - 60,000 ha

  3. Area of river under stoat control for whio - 55 kilometres (additional to 2. above)

  4. Area under goat control - 24,580 ha (increasing to over 30,000 hectares in 10/11

  5. Protection of bush on private land area retired - 334.5 ha with 18.1 km of fencing

  6. Area of wetlands protected 11.5 ha with 5.9 kms of fencing

  7. Riparian fencing to protect waterways - 17 km

  8. Number of pairs of whio under active protection - 55 pairs

  9. Number of pairs of kiwi under protection - 1,500 pairs