NorthTec working with Landcare Trust to protect Kiwi
NorthTec is working together with the NZ Landcare Trust, Department of Conservation and local community groups, to protect large areas of native forest in Northland.
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NorthTec offers the only complete Certificate in Professional Hunting and Pest Control in New Zealand. Students learn how to conduct and manage hunting and pest control contracts to maximise capture rates and safeguard New Zealand’s biodiversity from pest species.
Des Jarrett and Mike Baulcomb, tutors of the NorthTec Hunting and Pest Control programme, are working with the NZ Landcare Trust and the Department of Conservation (DoC) to adopt the Maungatika Scenic Reserve, located on Mount Tiger, to run parts of the largely practical portion of the programme.
NorthTec students will set up a grid of possum and predator traps, as well as rat bait stations, over the entire reserve, to help to eradicate the main target species of possums, rats, feral cats, mustelids, goats and pigs. The students will also monitor the pest populations and report back to DoC, along with the Owhiwa and Whareora Landcare groups, with their findings.
In addition, as part of the class theory work, the Hunting and Pest control students will be assisting the Whareora and Owhiwa Landcare Groups with updating their Integrated Pest Management Strategy.
The course also has an element of weed control, so pest plants such as woolly knightshade, ginger and Taiwan cherry, will also be targeted for eradication where possible.
The reserve will be adopted by NorthTec for a trial period of 12 months, and the polytechnic will follow DoC’s “Best Practice Guidelines for Kiwi Zones” to ensure that the work that they are doing promotes the continuance of the ever growing kiwi population in the area. Kiwi are beginning to move between the strongholds of Tutukaka and Whangarei Heads, and have recently been found dead in the relatively unprotected zone in between.
Ngaire Tyson, coordinator of the Whareora Landcare Group, is grateful for NorthTec’s offer of assistance. Though the Maungatika Scenic Reserve contains threatened plants and wildlife, there has been limited management of plant or animal pests. The reserve has presented a challenge to the neighbouring Owhiwa and Whareora Landcare groups since they began. “It is a large area of absolutely stunning and ecologically significant forest, ravaged by pests and too big for us to tackle,” she said. The Landcare groups already do a lot of work on the surrounding private land, and don’t have the resources to commit to the public reserve. “We can’t really thank you [NorthTec] enough for taking an interest and creating this wonderful opportunity,”
Des and Mike of NorthTec are looking forward to the new venture too. “It’s great to be able to get out into the community”, says Des, Programme Coordinator. “Working with community groups such and the NZ Landcare Trust can turn into ongoing work for our graduating students. It really is a win-win all round,” he said.
Lyn Davison, from the Department of Conservation, says the department is looking forward to working with both NorthTec and Landcare as this fits with the direction the department is now taking.