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Published: 2001-12-18 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is to provide $40,000 towards the Maungatautari restoration project.

The Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust - which includes local landowners, the Waikato conservator of DoC and the Mayor of Waipa District Council - was formed to restore the 3200 hectare native forest covering the Maungatautari volcano. The Trust applied for $40,000 from the Council's Environmental Initiatives Fund to undertake and extensive community and stakeholder liaison process.

The goal of the project is to restore the forest to a largely indigenous, diverse, fully functional self-sustaining forest, permanently free of mammalian pests. Over the next five years the Trust plans to build and maintain a 47 km pest proof fence around the forest, eliminate animal pests, and reintroduce threatened species such as kiwi, kokako and giant weta.

It also intends to build some visitor access gates and tracks, encourage visitors and establish an education facility for school groups, visitors and researchers.

The pest proof fence was developed in 1998 with a large amount of assistance from the Environmental Initiatives Fund towards its development. It had proved effective at excluding pests such as possums, feral cats, mustelids, rats and mice. Consultation with adjacent landowners was an important first step to gain their support for the project.

Cr Evan Penny said the group should also be told that environment Waikato could help in many sorts of ways but that it did not have the resources for more substantial funding of this sort of project.