The past year has been busy and productive for Pest Free Kaipātiki (PFK) in its mission of enhancing Kaipātiki’s native biodiversity and making the area pest free by 2026.
The community-led environmental organisation, set up by the Kaipātiki Restoration Network back in 2015, has grown into a highly organised, effective and widely respected ecological restoration society. In June this year, PFK signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Auckland Council marking the beginning of a new era of collaboration between the two organisations.
Over the past 12 months, their work has extended beyond pest plant eradication and animal predator control to include kauri protection also after kauri dieback was detected in Kauri Park and Muriel Fisher Reserves in July 2018.
Through partnerships with Council, Kaipātiki Local Board and contractors, they now support 28 volunteer groups with strategic planning, project coordination and resources. Its Volunteer Initiatives Programme is increasingly providing contractor support to volunteer groups with challenging projects requiring specialised machinery or manpower.
Since 2018, PFK has been working with local schools in the area to promote the pest-free message to our youngest and brightest to get them also focussed on a pest-free future.
Pest Plant Eradication
PFK’s 2018/19 pest plant campaign has increased community awareness of various pest plant species, including moth plant, woolly nightshade and wild ginger. The campaign has helped residents to identify, safely remove and dispose of these through the provision of quality advice, tools, herbicides and secure disposal options.
Local volunteers now utilise the award-winning EcoTrack app to record the location and abundance of pest species. To date, almost 2,000 pest plant incidences have been logged using the app.
Having this high-quality data enables the team to work smartly in prioritising and dispatching appropriate resources. In the last year, it has enabled volunteers to locate and eliminate nearly 8,000 moth plant pods. This has, in turn, resulted in five million fewer moth plant seeds being out there this coming spring.
When the scale of the pest problem is beyond the scope of volunteers, PFK has the ability to facilitate contractor assistance. This support empowers volunteers and residents to continue their work to maintain and further expand pest plant control activities in their neighbourhoods – on both private and council owned properties.
Once pest plants and weeds are removed, PFK is then able to support groups with planting plans, the provision of native seedlings, additional volunteer help if required, and tools and other resources to facilitate a full restoration of cleared areas. Over the past year, over 1500 native species were planted in Kaipātiki.
Like most of Auckland, Kaipātiki has rats and other predators also, and this was confirmed by PFK’s initial ‘Chew Card’ monitoring campaigns which recorded an abundance of predators in many local reserves. The good news is that there are now far lower numbers in what were the worst affected areas as a result of active predator control.
This year’s upcoming ‘Chew Card’ campaign in August looks set to be the biggest and best yet in terms of community involvement and has been expanded to include other ways residents can get involved in Citizen Science. PFK is expecting to see further decreases in predator numbers in areas where coordinated trapping occurs.
The network of traps coordinated by PFK volunteers is continuing to grow, along with the number of individual households participating in the ‘Predator Pulses’.
A quadrupling of our native bird numbers and reports of rare species returning to Kaipātiki is encouraging evidence that coordinated volunteer efforts are improving the area’s native biodiversity, but there is still a long way to go.
The creation of ‘Enhanced Halos’ has also been a key focus of PFK in 2019. A ‘Halo’ is a buffer zone of ‘guardian households’ surrounding an ecologically sensitive area where PFK actively support households in actions to eradicate pests.
The first ‘Enhanced Halo’ was launched earlier this year around Hadfield, Odin and Rangatira Reserves in Beach Haven, with 143 rat stations, three possum traps and a ‘DOC 180’ trap (for stoats and large rats) installed. PFK will develop five more ‘Enhanced Halos’ by the end of 2019.
PFK is continuing to tackle kauri dieback disease head-on. Volunteers work in reserves actively monitoring track closures, reporting break-ins, topping-up Sterigene supplies and providing information on track closures and alternative routes.
Over 100 participants have completed PFK’s Kauri Dieback Training, becoming proficient in best practice protection for kauri when working in or near reserves with kauri.
For support for kauri on private land, PFK has partnered with ‘Kauri Rescue,’ who offer treatment options for kauri with a positive test result for the disease.
The work of Pest Free Kaipātiki is made possible by the support of the Kaipātiki Local Board, Auckland Council, Birkenhead Licensing Trust, Digital Island, The Regional Environment & Natural Heritage Grant Programme, Predator Free New Zealand, Predator Free Auckland, Department of Conservation, Kaipātiki Project, and Kauri Rescue.
To find out more about how you can get involved, or register for this year’s Citizen Science Month, visit pestfreekaipātiki.org.nz