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Published: 2003-01-16 00:00:00

The Waikato Biodiversity Forum will use a $110,000 grant received from Government to set up a biodiversity advisory service for the Waikato Region.

The grant is the largest announced jointly this week by Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs and Conservation Minister, Chris Carter and is the first distribution of funding to improve indigenous biodiversity on private land.

In making the grant, the Ministers said the Advisory Service would meet Regional needs for a coordinated ‘gateway’ response for biodiversity information to landowners. The Waikato allocation is part of a total grant of $625,000 to be spent on a range of projects in the continuing implementation of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy.

Biodiversity Forum convenor Blair Dickie said the service would have a toll free number and a website, with operators able to answer basic questions, send out information and refer people to appropriate expertise and services to enhance biodiversity on their own land.

Volunteers will be trained to provide one-on-one advice and site visits. The service will be based in the Hamilton Environment Centre and is supported by a variety of agencies and interested stakeholders. The Forum, a national first, includes about 130 agencies and individuals, including Environment Waikato, Waikato University, DoC, district councils, tangata whenua, crown research institutes, Federated Farmers, conservation groups and organisations such as the Landcare Trust.

“The Biodiversity Forum is delighted we have been given the opportunity to progress this project that the community has told us is needed in the Region. It is one of a number of projects the Forum will be tackling over the next year.

“We are working together on a long term vision to develop indigenous biodiversity, vital for New Zealand’s economic survival. These resources are what makes New Zealand different and everyone has a role to play in preserving them.

Blair Dickie said the Waikato Biodiversity Forum will be looking for restoration projects and habitat reconstruction ideas so we can turn the tide of declining native plants, animals and habitat in the Waikato.”