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Spotlight on conservation

Published: 14 October 2017

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Spotlight on conservation.

Did you know that this winter more than 35,000 trees were planted in our two open sanctuaries? That’s 3.5ha of new habitat for our endangered species.

“Conservation is a key focus for Auckland Council and we work with a range of organisations, community groups and individuals all year round on projects across the region,” says Councillor Penny Hulse, chairperson of the Environment and Community Committee.

“Collectively, we work on planting days, native bird releases, undertaking clean-ups, conservation research and more.”

Here’s an update on a few things the council has been working on:

Making babies at Shakespear

Spotlight on conservation (2)
Source: Kimberley Collins

Little spotted kiwi are settling in well at Shakespear Open Sanctuary following their reintroduction back in April.

Now six months down the track, Auckland Council’s Senior Ranger Open Sanctuaries Matt Maitland says the kiwi are happy in their new home.

“Despite losing one of the twenty birds a few months ago, the remaining 19 kiwi are well and the majority of them have found a mate,” he says.  

“We have 16 birds paired up and there is the strong possibility that they’re sitting on eggs. If we’re correct and all things going well, we will hopefully see chicks hatching in the coming months.”

Little spotted kiwi are the smallest and second-rarest of kiwi species. The reintroduction to Shakespear was a complicated process that involved transporting 10 male kiwi from Tiritiri Matangi Island and 10 females from Kapiti Island. The release is one example of the council’s proactive efforts in supporting the national conservation of our rare national bird.  

The council hopes to release a further 20 little spotted kiwi to Shakespear Open Sanctuary over the next few years to help increase the gene pool of the founder population.  

Kōkako back in the game

Kōkako chicks are flourishing in the Hunua Ranges thanks to ongoing efforts to conserve the native bird. 

An estimated 130 chicks fledged last summer, the result of decades of work in the region.

In the early 1990s, New Zealand had 800 kōkako and the Hunua Ranges – one of the few remaining kōkako homes in the Auckland region – homed just 25. Auckland Council and the Department of Conservation (DOC) came to the rescue, teaming up to save the declining population.

Looking back, biodiversity advisor Tim Lovegrove says recovery was slow but the team persevered.

“Our rescue came right in the nick of time – only a single female remained in the ranges,” he says. 

“We laid traps to target predators and brought in new kōkako from the larger King Country population, which helped improve the genetic diversity.”

Thanks to the good work of volunteers, Auckland Council and DOC, the Hunua Ranges could support well over 1000 kōkako pairs in the future.

The spotted shag – a threatened species in the Hauraki Gulf?

The spotted shag or parekareka is one of the Hauraki Gulf’s treasures. Locally rare, Auckland Council’s Biodiversity team has singled it out for special attention.

This handsome and elegant seabird is under threat from set nets, predators and disturbances at their breeding grounds.

There used to be thousands of these graceful birds soaring the waves of the gulf. Now it breeds at just three places in the inner gulf: Tarahiki Island and two coastal sites at the eastern end of Waiheke Island. They no longer breed at the Noises Group and the last pair on Auckland’s west coast bred at Te Henga in 1999.

With recent surveys showing only about 300 pairs remain in our region, it is vital we protect this bird for the future.

Evergreen buckthorn still a problem child

There’s a serious threat to our native coastal plants on the Hauraki Gulf Islands and along Auckland’s coastline. The Evergreen buckthorn or rhamnus alaternus is a Total Control Pest Plant and continues to pose a huge risk to the regions distinctive ecology.

Auckland Council has been waging war on the weed since it was first classified in 2007, removing it from the northern and western slopes of Rakino Island and 11 of the 26 management units on Waiheke Island.

With rhamnus seedlings expected to appear in the coming years and almost 10,000 hectares to cover, ongoing efforts to eradicate the pest call for public support, with communal efforts critical to protecting our region’s environment. Landowners are required to monitor and control the rhamnus pest on their properties.

Check out how you can help and information on rhamnus and other pests via the Auckland Council website or Pest Free Auckland 2050.

About Conservation Week

It’s Conservation Week, an annual celebration run by DOC to encourage people to help take care of our environment.

This year, we’re all encouraged to ‘love our backyard’ by getting involved in conservation activities and events that bring a little love to our native birds, wildlife, flora and fauna. 

Auckland Council supports a range of conservation initiatives each year including native bird releases, helping with farming and biosecurity, clean-up events and undertaking research. 

Check out our list of Conservation Week events

Read more:

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