Biodiversity effort paying off

Key ecological treasures such as bush remnants and wetlands are being protected and enriched thanks to deepening partnerships between scores of individual landowners and the Taranaki Regional Council.

Gold-striped gecko.

This gold-striped gecko, Woodworthia chrysosiretica, a regionally distinctive species, was found at Omata recently and released into a one-hectare KNE at Omata School. The Council and the school have developed a Biodiversity Plan for the site and teacher Pat Murphy says pupils are excited about the project. (Photo courtesy of Pat Murphy)

The Council is working closely with the owners of 87 of the 172 privately owned sites identified as Key Native Ecosystems (KNEs) to ensure they are protected from predators and grazing stock, cleared of pest plants and regenerated with appropriate native plants.

The work schedules are laid out in Biodiversity Plans developed at no cost by the Council in conjunction with the landowners.

These plans can also support applications for funding assistance from a variety of sources including the QEII National Trust, the Taranaki Regional Council itself, District Council heritage funds, the Taranaki Biodiversity Trust and the Biodiversity Condition Fund.

“The beauty of the KNE programme is that it is totally voluntary – there are no rules or landuse controls involved,” says the Council’s Director-Operations, Stephen Hall. “What we’ve got on both sides of the partnership – the landowner and the Council – is highly motivated people keen to see results.

“And we’re seeing good results. For example, an assessment of 27 wetlands in 2013 found an improvement in 73% that are managed with a Council-developed Biodiversity Plan, but only in 31% in wetlands not managed by a plan.”

Landowners keen to protect and improve their own bush remnants, wetlands or the like can contact the Council about adding their site to the Inventory of KNEs. If it meets the criteria and the Council and landowner also agree to develop a Biodiversity Plan, this can open the way to funding assistance for fencing and other work.

Counting publicly owned sites as well as those in full or partial private ownership, there are currently 218 KNEs covering almost 122,000 hectares. The Council’s biodiversity budget for the 2016/2017 year is $1.67 million, up from $1.41 million in the current financial year.

Interested in the KNE programme? Call the Council on 0800 736 222 and ask for Environment Services.

RECOUNT — Taranaki Regional Council's quarterly newsletter
Issue 101, June 2016