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Published: 2012-11-21 00:00:00

A pilot project to help to look after endangered ecosystems and species living on private land has been given a funding boost by Waikato Regional Council.

The council’s finance and audit committee yesterday approved a grant of $37,100 from the environmental initiatives fund (EIF) to Forest & Bird for ‘Land for Wildlife’, which is based on a successful programme delivered throughout Australia since 1981 and involving 13,300 properties. 

It is a voluntary programme encouraging willing property owners to manage part of their land for nature conservation. 

Some of New Zealand’s most endangered ecosystems and species are found on private land, the council heard. 

Committee chairman Phillip Legg said it was important to support a project which was looking after remaining bush, rivers and wetlands on private land. 

“This project encourages private landowners who might be cautious about putting permanent covenants on their properties to contribute voluntarily to biodiversity restoration,” he said. 

The EIF grant will be used by Forest & Bird to purchase a handheld GPS, help fund a project coordinator, develop an online landowner database and pay for a letterbox drop in the project area. 

The pilot project is known as the ‘Kaimai Connection’. It covers the Te Puna and Aongatete catchments in the Bay of Plenty, and links these in a corridor across the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park to the Middle Waihou catchment in the Waikato. 

The programme integrates biodiversity protection and enhancement with other land management activities on farms, orchards and lifestyle blocks. It is free to join and there are no covenants or other such legal obligations. 

A Forest & Bird Land for Wildlife officer will visit a property and undertake an assessment. Landowners will then receive a property assessment report, which includes a detailed conservation action plan. 

The programme will provide continued support and encouragement through workshops, field days and regular newsletters. And each landowner’s efforts will be recognised with a sign to display on their property. 

An online landowner database will record relevant information relating to these properties to ensure analysis and monitoring can be undertaken by Forest & Bird. 

It is expected Land for Wildlife membership within the middle Waihou catchment will increase conservation actions and associated biodiversity outcomes. 

This project complements and supports both the biodiversity objectives in the Waikato Regional Policy Statement, and the council’s activities to achieve these objectives, including its participation in the Kaimai Catchments Project with Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the Department of Conservation.