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Published: 2007-08-06 00:00:00

Conservation Week is a great chance to join a biodiversity group and help protect the Waikato’s native plants and animals, says Waikato Biodiversity Forum coordinator Moira Cursey.

Biodiversity describes the variety of plant and animal species in the world, the genes they contain and the ecosystems (places) they live in.

In the Waikato, biodiversity groups have tripled in number over the past decade, from 57 in 1997 to more than 170 today.

“There’s a growing awareness in the community about the importance of protecting and improving our special places and the plants and animals that live in them,” Ms Cursey said.

“At least 100 of our region’s native species are threatened with extinction and only about 25 per cent of the native vegetation that once existed here still remains. Fortunately, more and more people are getting involved with protecting what we have left and that’s a real conservation success story.

“Conservation Week is a great opportunity to acknowledge the huge contribution our volunteers make and give them a big pat on the back, because their work is extremely valuable.”

The Waikato Biodiversity Forum, formed in 2002, is networking between community groups and management agencies to advocate for biodiversity protection and enhancement throughout the region.

It has recently published a guide to improving biodiversity in the region, Restoring Waikato’s Indigenous Biodiversity: Ecological Priorities and Opportunities.

The guide identifies projects already underway, shows maps of where some of our threatened plant and animal species live, and provides advice on how to choose an appropriate restoration site.

“If Conservation Week has inspired you to get involved in a biodiversity project but you’re not sure how to get in touch with a group in your area, you’re welcome to give the Waikato Biodiversity Forum a call on 0800 BIODIV (0800 246 348),” Ms Cursey said.

“We’d be happy to send you a copy of the guide, or to put you in touch with one of your local groups.”

Restoring Waikato’s Indigienous Biodiversity: Ecolgocial Priorities and Opportunties can also be downloaded from www.waikatobiodiversity.org.nz.

The Waikato Biodiversity Forum, supported by Environment Waikato and other central and local government agencies, is a partnership between research and management agencies, iwi groups, private land owners and communities who share a common goal of protecting and restoring native biodiversity in the Waikato region.