Date: 13 May 2021
“Orange-fronted parakeets have been thought to be extinct twice and without extensive predator control, this vulnerable taonga species again faces a similar fate.
“Funded through the Government’s Mahi mō te Taiao | Jobs for Nature programme, the project will keep 10 staff from outdoor guiding company Hiking New Zealand employed over 18 months.
“Their focus will be on predator control across 30,000 hectares of kākāriki karaka strongholds in Arthur’s Pass National Park and Lake Sumner (Hoka Kura) Forest Park’s Hurunui South Branch, work that is critical to the protection of these extremely rare birds.
“The investment means Hiking New Zealand can keep their guides employed and expand their skills into conservation mahi like tracking tunnel monitoring and trap setting. Workers will also spend some of their time on wilding conifer control work.
“The project will work collaboratively with mana whenua to offer employment and training opportunities for whānau, providing skills and experience that could lead to a career in conservation.
“This is very much about laying the foundations for a better future. Not only are we keeping people employed and getting work done that is critically important for our biodiversity, projects like this ensure businesses can be part of our economic recovery once international tourism resumes,” Dr Ayesha Verrall said.
Hiking New Zealand Co-director Dan Murphy says the company has “largely been put into hibernation while international tourists cannot visit and without this Jobs for Nature project, we would have had to lay off most of our guides”.
“It’s huge getting this contract – as a business you suddenly feel useful again.”
He says the project is an opportunity to add a conservation element to the business long-term, which could create year-round work for seasonal staff.
“With a workforce of outdoor professionals, this project seemed like the ideal pivot for our business.”
The $1.15 million project builds on a suite of work to protect and grow the fragile wild kākāriki karaka population, which numbers about 300 (excluding juveniles).
DOC works in partnership with Ngāi Tahu to lead the kākāriki karaka recovery programme, which includes captive breeding and maintaining a pest-free island population in addition to the extensive pest control programme.
The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust, Auckland Zoo, Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch Helicopters and Canterbury University all provide crucial support for this programme.
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