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ORC funds large-scale pest control initiative

Media Release - 04 August 2016

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) is financially supporting a major project involving control of invasive pests such as stoats, ferrets, and rats in an area north-east of Dunedin.

During ORC’s 2016/17 Annual Plan hearings, the Landscape Connections Trust applied to the council for capital funding of the Halo Project - part of a major initiative being undertaken by the Trust called ‘Beyond Orokonui’.

The Halo Project, as well as coordinating a response to the threats posed by animal pests in the area immediately surrounding Orokonui Ecosanctuary, also aims to encourage communities and landowners to embark on their own trapping activities to control the pests.

The project’s vision is to enhance natural ecosystems (including by supporting the recovery of rare and threatened species), to sustain communities by restoring indigenous biodiversity, providing opportunities for employment, education, training, and eco-tourism; and supporting a resilient agriculture sector.

ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker said the council would fund up to $134,000 of the $212,000 in capital the trust needs for the first year of the project from the ORC Environmental Enhancement Fund, with the money covering the purchase of pest control equipment.

“This is an excellent example of the kind of project the fund aims to support, particularly with its strong emphasis on community collaboration,” Mr Bodeker said.

“It’s an ambitious undertaking, but one which exemplifies the kind of protection we want our unique biodiversity environment in the area to have,’’ he said.

ORC owns pest control equipment (including possum traps) which is surplus to its requirements. The council would donate these to the trust once the required number of traps has been finalised, Mr Bodeker said.

Pests like stoats, ferrets, rats and possums in the area prey on lizards, birds and eggs and chew through native foliage. They can also act as vectors for pests and diseases, particularly TB. The trust is concerned about the impacts of these threats on communities in north-east Otago, both on ecosystems and in economic terms on the agriculture sector.

The project is a community-run land management programme, which aims to foster a network of volunteer teams to install and monitor traps and bait stations in their neighbourhoods and surrounding areas.

The project’s intended outcomes include:

  • Buffering Orokonui Ecosanctuary from pest incursions and protecting birds that spillover from the ecosanctuary;
  • Improving indigenous wildlife and vegetation health around Orokonui Ecosanctuary, and other areas where there is pro-active community support for this;
  • Supporting more local people to become trained and employed in pest control and conservation activities;
  • Helping keep TB away from livestock;
  • Inspiring community members to initiate pest control in their own backyards.

For more information please contact

Peter Bodeker
Chief executive
ORC
Ph 03 474 0827 or 0274 998 328

Rhys Millar
Project Manager
Beyond Orokonui
Ph 03 477 9242 or 027 3877 866

Information about ORC’s Environmental Environment Fund is available at www.orc.govt.nz/Information-and-Services/Environmental-Enhancement-Fund/ 

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