Kōkako Project Shows Council Community Funding at Work

154
Western Bay of Plenty District Council
Western Bay of Plenty District Council

Western Bay of Plenty District Council’s annual Community Matching Fund opens today with $140,000 available for not-for-profit community groups.

Application is eligible for groups with a commitment to their communities and who are able to “match’’ Council’s cash grant – in volunteer hours, cash or similar matching criteria. The fund is split into $40,000 for environmental projects and $100,000 for the general fund.

Protecting Endangered Kōkako

Last year the Rotoehu Ecological Trust (RET) gained $10,000 from the fund to expand its pest control programme in Pongakawa to protect the endangered native bird kōkako. The Trust was one of 27 groups benefiting from the fund in 2018.

Council’s Community Relationships Environment Officer Glenn Ayo says the Trust is a great example of an organisation that fits the fund’s criteria. It has a strong volunteer base and a robust plan for its goal of restoring an endangered species to its natural habitat.

Since 2013, RET has helped protect kōkako within Rotoehu Forest. Under the leadership of Jane Bird, Sarah Orton and Roger Bawden, the Trust helps local Department of Conservation (DOC) staff with management of the forest and the kōkako. The Trust controls pests in the Pongakawa Ecological Area and Otari Block.

Chairperson Sarah Orton says the kōkako is considered the keystone species of the Rotoehu Forest. The Trust works on the principle that if this taonga is protected and allowed to flourish, other flora and fauna will also thrive.

“As with many of our threatened bird species, most people have never seen a kōkako,” says Sarah. “It comes as a surprise to learn that in the hills south of Pongakawa we have one of the country’s most important places for conservation of a rare and extraordinary bird.”

Council’s funding has helped the Trust expand its bait station network into the southern section of the Pongakawa Ecological Area, approximately 260 hectares, to reach its goal of 100 breeding pairs of kōkako by 2025. The work involves clearing about 30 kilometres of track and installing 160 bait stations.

The Trust partners with Kōkako Organic Coffee Roasters, DOC, Western Bay Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Kaingaroa Timberlands, Timberlands Ltd and Tangata Whenua (Ngati Makino Iwi) on its projects.

The latest 2019 kōkako census of 1200 hectares of the Rotoehu Forest found 133 pairs and eight singles (274 kōkako), of which 126 pairs and all singles were within the managed area. In 2013 the census covered only 601 hectares and found 50 pairs and 29 singles (129 birds total). So the 2019 census has doubled the area and the kokako and reflects the worth of RET’s pest control.

Applications for this year’s Community Matching Fund open from 29 April to 29 May 2019. For more information visit Council’s website https://www.westernbay.govt.nz/our-council/grants-and-funding/Pages/default.aspx