Waikato Regional Council has granted $2.076 million to four landscape scale predator control projects in the region – including one at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and another which benefits from it.
At last week’s council meeting on Thursday, the council approved funding to:
• Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust for its Sharing the Mauri and Mana of Maungatautari project ($1,476,275 over four years)
• Thames Kiwi Coast Care Inc to expand Thames coast predator control and habitat protection ($270,000 over four years)
• Waikato Environment Centre Trust for its Bush to Burbs project ($129,517 over three years)
• Mahakirau Forest Estate Society for its Trilogy of Treasured Tonga project ($201,000 over four years).
The purpose of the Natural Heritage Fund is to help implement the council’s commitment to preserving the natural heritage of the region – native plants and animals, threatened ecosystems, outstanding landscapes and the natural character of waterways and the coast.
Natural heritage projects are designed to protect and enhance the ecological assets for the people of the region.
The Natural Heritage Fund has been in place since 2005 and is derived from the Natural Heritage Targeted Rate of $5.80 per property.
The funding for Maungatautari will help cover the cost of maintaining Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari’s pest proof fence and detect and remove invasive pests. The total cost of maintaining Maungatautari’s predator free status is $5.4 million over four years.
Waikato Regional Council Deputy Chair Kataraina Hodge says Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is an internationally significant conservation project that has contributed to the recovery of a range of threatened species such as kiwi, hihi and tīeke, and looks to reintroduce to the maunga further species extinct from the mainland such as kākāpō.
“The trust has been a significant beneficiary of the Natural Heritage Fund to date and has made excellent progress with achieving its ambitious vision as a key site in the recovery of New Zealand’s threatened species and the restoration of functioning ecosystems,” she said.
The Bush to Burbs (B2B) project aims to create safe corridors for the increasing numbers of birds spilling out from Maungatautari into the north of the maunga.
The project area, from Sanctuary Mountain to Cambridge, is about 11,578 hectares and includes Lake Kārapiro and Roto-o-Rangi and Pukekura to the west.
The project will promote and coordinate predator control by private landowners. It borders the Te Taiea te Taiao restoration project along the Mangapiko Stream, which is about creating safe corridors between Sanctuary Mountain and Mt Pirongia.
The funding will help cover the costs of traps and a small amount of advocacy and liaison time. The total cost of the project is $1.01 million.
Cr Hodge says there is considerable pest control efforts already happening by urban trappers in Cambridge township, and this project supports their efforts.
“There has been no coordinated possum control in this area since the mid-2000s when TB possum control was stopped. Bush to Burbs will essentially pick up where this work left off but with a Predator Free vision to build considerable biodiversity gains by controlling possums, rats and mustelids.
“This project will be further supported by planting and weed control projects by landowners with help from our catchment management officers.”