Media release

First allocations made from ORC environmental enhancement fund

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Two innovative biodiversity projects have secured the first money from the Otago Regional Council’s new environmental enhancement fund.

The Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group has received $27,000 for its work controlling possums on the Otago Peninsula, while Parker Conservation has received $30,000 over three years to support a population study in the Dunedin area of the threatened NZ native falcon-karearea.

ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker said both applications met the fund criteria, the key one of which is to support positive environmental outcomes in Otago.

NZ native falcons can live successfully in plantation forests, and the Parker Conservation study, undertaken jointly with commercial forestry operators, will assess their breeding stock, survival, and mortality in their pine plantation habitats, and establish a baseline population count with which future population estimates can be compared.

Fieldwork for the project would be done during the NZ falcon breeding season (August to February) and the funding would enable:

  • An estimate of breeding success, identification of causes of breeding failure, and possible methods to reduce those causes to be done.
  • A population study from which adult and juvenile survival rates could be estimated.
  • Insight into whether forestry site preparation, timber harvesting, or pest control negatively affected falcon breeding and if so, how to reduce this impact.

Mr Bodeker said the funding to the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group recognised the important work landowners were doing to cull possums and keep the peninsula TB-free.

The group has co-ordinated numerous possum control projects since 2011, involving community volunteers, industry contractors, and OPBG members.

Alongside the possum culling work, the OPBG is undertaking a rigorous scientific monitoring programme to document what happens in the wider environment when pest species successively decline on the Peninsula.

This includes monitoring the effects of possum removal on birds, vegetation, and rodents.“These worthwhile projects will go a long way I’m sure, to enhancing our environment and its precious values. We are glad to have been able to support the groups’ efforts and we look forward to considering further equally worthy funding applications,” Mr Bodeker said.

Note to editors/chief reporters: More information about the fund’s objectives and eligibility criteria can be found on the ORC website.