Sloping down from Upper Harbour Drive in Greenhithe, down to the Hellyers/Oruamo Creek which borders with Beach Haven, is a wonderful escarpment of mature native forest.
The 140-hectare high-ecological value area is home to some huge kahikatea and kauri which are hidden away in steep, tangled and tricky to access surrounds. It is also home to various native lizards, including the copper skink, ornate skink, green gecko and forest gecko.
Over the past 12 months, Greenhithe Community Trust has been working with local residents and volunteers to roll out its first large-scale pest control programme in the area.
The main weapon to date has been the deployment of Goodnature gas-powered traps. Around 200 of these traps have now been installed within the escarpment and in surrounding wooded areas, including council reserves and adjacent private properties.
“The gas traps are fantastic and extremely effective,” says pest free project co-ordinator Richard Chambers.
“Because they are self-resetting and only need servicing and refilling twice a year, they are perfect for deploying in tricky to access terrains like this, he says.
“Their low maintenance is also helpful in keeping foot traffic minimal, and thus reducing the chances of introducing other problems into the area, like kauri dieback disease.”
Goodnature gas traps are in place in Redfern Reserve, Taihinui Historical Reserve, Hellyers Esplanade Reserve and, with owner permission, in some adjacent private properties.
Earlier this year, Auckland Council undertook pest monitoring in the three reserves and found no signs of rats or stoats now being present in the two largest ones.
“Those results were great to see and confirm our efforts to date have been effective in significantly reducing pest populations and infestations,” says Chambers.
“There remain some significant tracts of private land in the surrounding area where we do not yet have traps in yet where we would very much like to,” says Chambers.
“We’re keen to speak directly with any neighbouring property owners who have not yet spoken with us who would like to support this project by approving property access for trap installation and maintenance.
“Our goal for the coming year is to work with our community to get more traps into private properties right across Greenhithe, and to grow community involvement and participation with the Greenhithe Community Trust and the Upper Harbour Ecology Network.”
Advancement of this pest free control initiative, along with others in neighbouring Herald Island, Whenuapai and Paremoremo, have been assisted by funding of the Upper Harbour Ecology Network (UHEN) by Upper Harbour Local Board.
UHEN is a network of environmental groups from across Upper Harbour that meet monthly to learn, network and keep up with developments in environmental issues across Auckland.
Roll out of the project was made possible last year following a grant from Transpower that enabled the purchase of 200 Goodnature gas traps, and another from the Lottery Environment and Heritage Fund which provided funding for Richard Chambers to work as a dedicated resource to the project.
Richard Chambers can be contacted via email at email@example.com
Get involved - New Zealand Garden Bird Survey 2019
Another way of gauging the impact of the work being undertaken is by the monitoring of bird life in the surrounding area.
Greenhithe residents are encouraged to take part in this year’s annual New Zealand Garden Bird Survey, which takes place between 29 June and 7 July.
“It’s easy to do and it can be done sitting in the backyard with the kids,” says Chambers.
“And the more people who do it, the more meaningful it becomes.”
“While it is a nationwide count, if we can get significant numbers of people inputting data from across Greenhithe and neighbouring Beach Haven and Glenfield, we can gain a much more informed picture of what’s going on in our little area of the world,” he says.
Visit Landcare Research website for all you need to know on how to participate in this year’s New Zealand Garden Bird survey.
Increased trapping across wider Greenhithe
Greenhithe Community Trust has also been busy working with local residents, community groups and organisations across Greenhithe to set up rat and possum traps on their properties, supported by funding from Kiwibank.
“We’ve definitely noticed a big upswing in interest and participation in environmental protection initiatives across Greenhithe,” says Greenhithe Community Trust Chairperson Amanda Mitchell.
“Within Wainoni Park, for example, we have teams of locals working on trap lines over the entire 39 hectares of park area to eradicate rats and possum populations present there. This has provided a focus on trapping in the wider area and that has led to more people coming on board.”
The Trust is keen to hear from people living locals in the area surrounding Wainoni Park wanting to join the Wainoni Park Halo.
“The Halo aims to grow an area of protection and sanctuary for our native birds and plant species to recover and grow in strength within,” says Mitchell.
Residents can contact Trust Eco Facilitator Nicola Robertson on email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the Wainoni Park Halo, and to request a free trap for use on their private property.