Getting more people involved with conservation work is the key to achieving results.
That’s how Annalily sees it.
“If we all work together, we actually can get rid of all the pests and help our birds. Every dead rat, every weed pulled, every tree planted helps.”
Annalily moved to New Zealand from the Netherlands six years ago and started volunteering as a way to meet people in her new neighbourhood.
She researched volunteer opportunities in her area and found Ark in the Park, a conservation project in the Waitākere Ranges run by Forest and Bird and Auckland Council.
Volunteers like Annalily manage more than 4600 bait stations and 400 traps in the 2100ha area that has resulted in pest reduction, allowed for the regeneration of native forest and seen the reintroduction of whitehead, kōkako and North Island robin into the area.
Annalily had plenty of ideas about what Waitākere residents could do next to protect and enhance their natural environment, so she joined the local branch of Forest and Bird and got to work. She has now been chair of the Waitākere branch for just over a year, working on projects like Habitat te Henga, Matuku Reserve, Colin Kerr-Taylor Memorial Reserve and Motu Manawa / Pollen Island.
“I went along to weeding bees, beach clean-ups and baiting and trapping rounds, all of which were great ways to get to know the people and places of west Auckland,” says Annalily. “I even held an endangered patake (brown teal) when they were released in Te Henga wetland!”
To spread the word about the need for volunteers, Annalily uses online channels. She edits a newsletter for the Waitākere Forest and Bird branch and uses social media for all her projects. The best example of this is the work she did for Matuku Link, a group that wanted to save a 37ha piece of bush and wetland in the Waitākere Valley.
“I set up a website, Facebook page and Twitter account to generate attention and raise funds. We needed to raise $1 million to buy it and we did!”
The group has purchased the land and is now searching for more funding to cover the remaining $1 million currently owed. They also need more volunteers to help them achieve their goals of making the area pest free and turning the barn on the land into a Wetland Education Centre.
Become a conservation hero
Annalily says conservation work is an enjoyable and rewarding way to make a difference in the community and suggests everyone gives it a go.
“I’ve met most of our New Zealand friends through volunteering. As a recent immigrant being able to live in this beautiful country, I feel grateful I can give back and make a difference by doing what I love: talking to people about conservation, visiting schools for Ark in the Park and planting trees while knee deep in mud!”
If you’d like to become a conservation hero, you can help Annalily with Ark in the Park or Matuku Link, research community groups in your area, or even start your own project based on a need in your backyard.