A helping hand for Rodney environmental groups

Publish Date : 18 May 2023
A helping hand for Rodney environmental groups
Community groups set up displays at the Warkworth A&P Lifestyle Show.

Support for community groups engaged in conservation projects in eastern Rodney has gone from strength to strength with the establishment of Restore Rodney East.

Set up during COVID-19 lockdowns, the group became operational 18 months ago, and now with incorporated society status; Restore Rodney East assists volunteer groups across the rohe from Puhoi to Te Arai realise their full potential when delivering environmental projects.

Rodney Local Board Chair Brent Bailey says Rodney is fortunate to have many hardworking volunteer groups who deliver a huge range of environmental restoration projects, and the local board is very keen to support their tremendous efforts.

“The challenge is huge; how to help each group achieve their conservation goals, provide the resources they need, and match that to the budgets we have available.

“We hear a lot from conservation groups and there is common ground between them, but how can they collaborate and support each other?

“Simultaneously, we needed to identify opportunities to improve the health of ecosystems in the Rodney East area.”

Funding from the board has been essential to develop the community restoration strategy [PDF], the ecological connectivity roadmap [PDF] and to establish the facilitator role at Restore Rodney East.

The roadmap gave conservation groups and stakeholders access to a technical guide that enables landscape-scale conservation outcomes.

Through the community restoration strategy, environmental groups could share their aspirations and challenges, and then create a plan to support volunteers and their project outcomes. As community members, groups and organisations worked together on the strategy, it led to setting up Restore Rodney East in 2021.

Achievements include:

  • Engaged with over 30 community groups within the Rodney East rohe
  • Created a pool of shareable resources for groups to use. Resources include a projector and screen, trail cameras for monitoring biodiversity or animal pests, a gazebo for events, planting tools and pest plant control tools
  • Helped groups share their projects with the community and recruit new volunteers through sponsored advertorials in a local newspaper and displays at the local agricultural show
  • Increased local board support and understanding of environmental volunteers and projects
  • Encouraged groups and communities to submit on Local Government plans including the draft annual budget 2023/2024
  • Worked with the Department of Conservation to improve outcomes for volunteers working on DOC land
  • Collaborated with significant conservation entities such as The Forest Bridge Trust and Forest & Bird Warkworth Area Branch
  • Grew volunteer groups technical knowledge with a series of events and guest speakers presenting on a range of topics including the recent Connect & Inspire event which featured an impressive lineup of speakers from all over New Zealand.

Restore Rodney East facilitator Sarah Churchouse says that many opportunities are created for the groups to network, collaborate, share and celebrate their successes.

"The Connect & Inspire event hit all the right notes, reinforcing connections and making lifelong relationships. Restore Rodney East provided to the community groups, the promises made in our constitution, and we gained respect from our peers, and guests.”

Next steps

Restore Rodney East has many activities planned for the next 12 months.

Chairman Tim Armitage believes it’s an exciting time for environmental restoration projects right across the region.

“We’re working hard to frame up and launch a Pest Free Mahurangi East Peninsula project. In response to concerns raised by multiple local groups we have established a working party to support initiatives related to the management of cats and their impacts on the environment.

“We are seeking funds to support groups to undertake a comprehensive survey of some of the endangered species we have within the district.

“In parallel; we are continuing to help promote the work of many of the local groups to help attract more volunteers to support their efforts. Our shared library of equipment and tools that groups can borrow is expanding. We will be running and supporting more events by bringing in outstanding speakers and educators who can help us all to achieve better our goals.”

How to get involved

People wanting to get involved can find more information at the website restorerodneyeast.org.nz, email facilitator@rre.org.nz or follow the Restore Rodney East Facebook page.

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