Nelson Restoration Groups Joining Forces

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Scattered community restoration groups are discussing working together to share knowledge, save money and more effectively control pests across the region.

Groups in Golden Bay and Nelson-Tasman gathered in two separate meetings recently to talk about how they could work together more closely.

The workshops were called by Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust chairman Dave Butler. Around 25 people from nine groups attended the meeting in Richmond in late October and about 35 people were at the Golden Bay meeting last week.

“We wanted to see if by working collectively we could achieve more than individual groups.”

Individual community restoration groups were working to restore bush in the hills from the Glen to St Arnaud. Others worked along the Motueka and Abel Tasman coastline, throughout Golden Bay, in Kahurangi National Park and in Westhaven’s Mangaraukau Swamp.

He said feedback from the meetings indicated a strong need for groups to work together more. But the trick would be not to overlay levels of responsibility and dampen the enthusiasm of the community groups while at the same time co-ordinating information sharing, technical workshops, joint funding applications, planning and monitoring.

“Things like monitoring are tricky for individual groups because they do not have the resources to monitor bird counts. But it is probably one of the key areas when you go into discussion and start lobbying for funding.”

Dave said local and central government was not aware of the great strides community restoration groups were making in restoring biodiversity to the peri-urban areas around towns and cities.

“Groups have to get the word out to apply for resources.”

Collective funding applications were also easier for funders who only had to deal with one request rather than multiple petitions.

“Collective group applications can see real benefits.”

Shared planning of pest control resulted in improved results. Individual groups tended to care for specific areas of bush, Dave said.

“It’s about filling in the gaps, particularly for pests like stoats which are wide ranging so we have to protect a whole landscape rather than just pockets.”

Dave said many individuals and small groups were almost working shoulder to shoulder in the Richmond Hills.

While in Golden Bay an extensive coastal network was backed by individual trapping through more inland bush.

Enthusiasm for restoration in Golden Bay was such that over half those attending last week’s meeting came from outside the known network.

The current focus was to find a body which could co-ordinate a wide ranging network of groups while still allowing those groups to have individual autonomy.

“I think these groups work because people enjoy what they are doing and do not want to be told what to do.

This is about doing a better job rather than creating rules.

“Part of the message we are trying to get out is that these groups are worthy of support because they are returning biodiversity to where people live.”

Dave said a collective workshop to share the latest trapping technology was planned for next February.

“This is a growing movement and if we can get people to work together it will continue to grow.”

Source: The Nelson Leader