OurAuckland chats to Stephanie Chamberlin, a pest-free hero in Cockle Bay who tackles conservation work from the ground up – literally.
She’s passionate about environmental work coming from communities with individuals making a start in their own backyard or local park.
Her pest-free work in Cockle Bay began in her own backyard six years ago. Facing a garden that was knee-high with weeds when she moved in to her new home, she was determined to restore the natural ecosystem, so she set about clearing weeds and replanting native seedlings.
Reaching out to the community
Since then, she’s reached out to the community for other locals interested in conservation work and become involved with the Pest Free Auckland 2050 programme.
Steph has became known as a 'go-to' person for conservation tips and advice among neighbours dealing with pests or erosion in their gardens. This has led to her sharing native plants and seedlings from her own now-regenerated backyard.
Pest Free Auckland 2050’s sustainable school’s programme provides free pest traps, so she grabbed some for both herself and neighbours.
Finding time can be tough, but it's worth it
Stephanie says she knows it can be tough finding time for pest-free projects on top of jobs, kids and the rest of life. But she's excited to see more people leaping into conservation work.
“You never want to be pushy and I’ve always worried about not pressuring people,” she says. “But recently there’s been a real openness to environmental work. There’s a sense of momentum in our area – people getting excited and passionate about these projects.”
Stephanie is also involved in the Friends of Cockle Bay Domain, a community group restoring Cockle Bay Domain from invading weeds and pests.
Looking to the future, the group is sharing its knowledge and experience to help people restore their local spaces, and is running stalls to share information.
“It only takes a couple of people with enough passion and you can see real change happening,” Stephanie says.
“For me personally, it’s magical to watch our native plants grow back – I love this land, our trees and animals, so helping them flourish and grow is miraculous and so rewarding. In my backyard alone I’ve got black mudfish, glow-worms, nīkau palms and more. I feel very privileged to be able to care for them.”
Pest Free Auckland 2050 is a community-led conservation programme facilitated by Auckland Council to keep our city’s environment thriving. To get involved, check out Pest Free Auckland 2050 or find a conservation group near you at Nature Space.