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Published: 2011-08-30 00:00:00

Volunteer groups involved in work to protect and improve the Waikato region’s environment have been given a funding boost by the Waikato Regional Council.

In a meeting last Thursday the regional council approved a number of applications for grants from the environmental initiatives fund (EIF).

Chairman Peter Buckley said: “Many of these organisations rely on the involvement and help of volunteers to achieve success in their communities.

“The funding awarded by the council allows them to continue with their work, which contributes more to the region than the value of our grants,” Cr Buckley said.

 

The Guardians of Paku Bay Association was awarded $8000 for the construction of two artificial bird roosting areas in Paku Bay at Tairua, on the Coromandel Peninsula.

The main objective is to enhance the roosting and feeding opportunities for birds, and bird watching opportunities for people. The proposal is for two small roosts that mirror the design of a naturally formed roost nearby.

If the prototypes function well and are used by increasing numbers of birds, they could be implemented across the Coromandel and other areas where natural habitat has been diminished.

Coastal scientist and Waikato Regional Council Beachcare contractor Jim Dahm has designed the roosts and will help the association interpret data and evaluate effectiveness.

Some work on the roost sites has already been completed since the association was granted consent in 2009, but approximately 750 cubic metres of fill is still needed and heavy equipment is required.

The construction work would involve using clean sand from the coastal marine area, transporting it to the two roost sites, and shaping the sites. It is expected to take about 80 hours of work.

The association was formed in 2002 to preserve and improve the natural character of Paku Bay, ensure continued access for all members of the public to the whole bay and to preserve and monitor sea and bird life of the bay and the Tairua estuary. It has a membership of about 200, with approximately 50 active members.

 

A grant of $3,000 was awarded to the David Johnstone Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve Trust for new signage and an infrared security camera at the entrance to the reserve to help curb/prevent vandalism.

In its application the trust told the council that many changes had taken place at Pukemokemoke over the past 10 years, making the information board in the parking area at the entrance to the reserve now totally inadequate and out-of-date. New tracks and visitor facilities, the opening up of the pa site, and the view of the Waikato region from the summit are not marked on the board.

In addition, there have been some small fires in the reserve over summer, damage to signs, and car break-ins in the parking area.

Gifted to the nation in 1991 by David Johnstone, Pukemokemoke is a reserve which covers 40ha and is managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC). It enjoys a rich diversity of native plant species and bird life.

A network of tracks allows an exploration of the area and also gives access to a lookout platform that has panoramic views of the Waikato basin. It is heavily used by school groups.

The reserve is just 20 minutes north of Hamilton and has, as part of the ‘Hamilton Halo’ project, been subject to intensive pest control.

 

The Hamilton Junior Naturalist (Junats) Club will use its $4000 grant to help fund the purchase of computers and electronic equipment for ecological monitoring at Te Kauri Reserve.

The reserve is a 1,100 hectare remnant of kauri, podocarp and hardwood forest located between Pirongia and Kawhia.

The Te Kauri-Waikuku Trust was formed in 2004 to manage the Te Kauri-WaikukuRestoration and Education Project. The founding partnersrepresented on the trust are the Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club, Department ofConservation, Ngati Hikairo and Enviroschools Foundation.

The equipment to be purchased with this grant would be associated with the collection and electronic collation of scientific data.

As part of the project school students will learn about forest health and ecology through hands-on activities. The restoration activities will be designed so students can make a meaningful contribution to monitoring and pest control. Web access to ongoing changes in forest health will be tracked and recorded in a way that enables students to experience how their actions make a difference over time.

The Junats club caters for children aged 10-18, promoting and fostering interest and education in natural history. The club owns and operates Te Kauri Lodge, which is also available to schools and other interest groups to foster interest in natural science and environmental education. More than 1,400 people each year use Te Kauri Lodge for recreation, retreats, environmental education and ecological courses.