These days, it’s not uncommon to be running through some hoops and loops in order to do ‘some good’. And this is not the exception for local volunteer group Whangamata Harbour Care.
Their latest win, is with DOC (Department of Conservation), where Whangamata Harbour Care volunteer members, Roselle Gould and Dave Beatty, asked to have a community agreement with DOC and local Iwi, to trap predators along the peninsula shoreline, that runs adjacent to the boat moorings in the harbour.
As DOC manages this land, the group needed to seek their permission to trap this area, with a number of criteria to be followed, including that each trap is GPS’d and monitored, a health & safety policy is followed, and for the group to have Public Liability insurance in place.
"Unfortunately DOC do not have the people power to be able to do the monthly trap clearing and resetting of 37 DOC 200 traps and 13 Timms traps” states Roselle Gould, "which will help the flora and fauna in this area. The terrain is hard-going - rocky outcrops, steep and thick bush - but we’re lucky to have 3 fit and dedicated members to carry out the trapping work."
The area can only be accessed by foot or by boat - so it’s fortunate that Whangamata Harbour Care has also been loaned a boat by generous locals. “The boat’s name is ‘Suzy’, and she helps to carry the members and their equipment across. We bring back any rubbish that is found over there as well", says Roselle.
Since 1997, Whangamata Harbour Care volunteers have been striving to keep the harbour in a healthy state so future generations can enjoy it too. Recently the group has expanded its efforts to support all native biodiversity of the harbour, which includes birds, fish species, plants and other living matter. This is achieved through working with landholders to reduce inputs of sediments and pollutants, controlling invasive species, cleaning up rubbish and foreign matter, undertaking educational programmes through the school, and working with local authorities in legislative responsibilities – such as reducing the strict conditions set out for mangrove seedling removal.
Through the methods of trapping and predator control, the group has recorded significant levels of trapped pests, including rats, stoats, possums and hedgehogs. This enables the harbour bird species to have a higher breeding success rate, as well as helping protect the more ‘hidden’ species such as wetas and skinks, which all contribute to a healthy biodiversity in and around our harbour.
The results are starting to show with flowering Kamahi’s (possums love eating these trees), an abundance of red flowers on Pohutukawas, and Banded Rail sightings close to the shoreline.
If you would like to look after our harbour too, why not become a member of Whangamata Harbour Care? You can also help the harbour’s flora and fauna by adding a trap to your backyard, or make a donation. Visit www.whangamataharbourcare.com for more information.