Great Walks biodiversity project
IntroductionDOC and Air New Zealand have worked in partnership since 2012 to bring birdsong back to the Great Walks.
Air New Zealand invests in six large biodiversity projects alongside the Great Walks network – enabling over 43,000 hectares of sustained pest control and the return of native birdsong to these special places.
The partnership funds sustained goat control across 2,000 hectares and monthly pest control targeting possums and rodents, covering 57 hectares around visitor campsites.
Abel Tasman Coast Track
An extensive trapping network covers over 90% of Abel Tasman National Park thanks to the collaborative efforts of DOC, Project Janszoon, Air New Zealand and the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust.
The DOC/Air New Zealand partnership focuses on the northern end of the park around Tōtaranui. The partnership is funding 3,330 hectares of predator control across the entire northern end of the park, and two self-resetting trap networks that target rats and stoats. Acoustic monitors that capture birdsong over time are also deployed to gather data on bird populations. Wasp control is also carried out along the track and campsites in the years when wasp densities are high.
The Heaphy Track is home to takahē, great spotted kiwi, kākā and whio, all of which are classified as ‘nationally vulnerable’ in New Zealand’s threat classification system.
Funded through the partnership, a trapping network targeting stoats and rats covers more than 6,421 hectares around the Gouland Downs area to help protect this precious biodiversity, including a newly established wild takahē population. Establishing a second wild population of takahē outside of their Fiordland stronghold is a New Zealand conservation milestone, and was supported by Air New Zealand with a special charter flight to transport the birds from DOC’s Burwood Takahē Centre. Work is also being undertaken to monitor kaka nest sites and relative breeding success.
Biodiversity on the most recent Great Walk benefits from an additional 12,088 hectares of trapping around the Paparoa Track. This trapping protects populations of great spotted kiwi and whio present in the area.
The Routeburn Track is home to several species under threat, including kea, whio, mohua and rock wren.
Trapping networks have been extended across 10,347 hectares and are maintained to help boost these species' chances of recovery. Sightings of whio by walkers are now common along the Routeburn Track. Rock wren are now thriving in alpine areas along the track.
Trapping across an additional 9,344 hectares is possible thanks to the efforts of this partnership. Pest control supports recovery for several threatened species here including whio, pāteke, kākā, kea, kiwi, short-tailed bats and several species of forest dwelling birds.
The partnership has also supported several translocations of pāteke into Arthur valley, since 2012. Remote acoustic monitors, trail sensor cameras and distance sampling methods are deployed throughout the year, gathering data to understand effectiveness and what further efforts are needed.