Love birds, save trees: Kereru Discovery Project takes flight with fresh funding in the Year of Forests
A project to help Kereru and native forests thrive once more throughout the Wellington region has received new funding today from the Nikau Foundation with the generous support of the Willscott Endowment Fund, and WWF-New Zealand in partnership with the Tindall Foundation.
The organisations announced today they are investing a total of $10,000 in the Kereru Discovery Project to kick-start a new phase of the conservation project, which aims to increase populations of the native birds from Kapiti Island through to the Wairarapa. In turn, the growing numbers of Kereru will play a critical role in restoring native forest in the region. Today Kereru numbers are a tiny fraction of what they once were as a result of habitat loss and an associated lack of food, and introduced predators such as possums, ferrets and stoats.
“Kereru are beautiful birds, and their recovery is critical to the survival of New Zealand’s unique and special forests,” explains Marc Slade, Terrestrial Programme Manager at WWF-New Zealand. “Kereru are one of the only surviving mainland native species able to swallow the fruit of some key forest trees, including miro, tawa, rimu and matai. Some of these seeds need to pass through the gut of a bird to germinate, meaning the health of the forests is absolutely dependent on Kereru. We’re excited to be leading this next phase of the project.”
The new phase will launch later this year, and will involve local communities in helping Kereru thrive, calling on people to plant native trees which are food sources for the birds in their backyards, and to volunteer for pest control schemes. “One of the longer term tactics we hope to use is establishing ‘green corridors‘ from places where the birds thrive, such as Kapiti, through to the Wairarapa,” commented WWF’s Marc Slade.
In and around Wellington, 98 per cent of the region was once cloaked in forest – of which only 28 per cent survives today. In the UN declared International Year of Forests 2011, a team of local partners are coming together to boost the conservation efforts of the Kereru Discovery Project, including WWF-New Zealand, ZEALANDIA (Karori Sanctuary Trust), Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington Regional and City Councils, district councils, and the Department of Conservation..
“In the International Year of the Forests, WWF is getting behind this project because Kereru are the champions of New Zealand forest recovery, they’re a keystone species and need looking after,” says WWF’s Marc Slade.
“As a charitable trust that manages donors’ money so that their one gift will give in perpetuity, the focus of Nikau Foundation is the Wellington region. We are delighted to be able to contribute, on behalf of our donor the Willscott Fund, to the recovery of Kereru numbers and the ongoing restoration of native forests in our region,” said Adrienne Bushell, Nikau Foundation Marketing Manager.
Completing the circle of positive effects, the project’s efforts to save native forest will help other native birds flourish, says WWF’s Marc Slade: “By looking after Kereru we save our forests, and by saving our forests we’re protecting the habitat of other native species. It’s an example of how everything connects in a cycle of life, and how conservation of species has flow on effects to benefit whole ecosystems,” he said.
Wellingtonians can do their share today to make Kereru a common sight in the Wellington region’s open spaces, reserves and skies, and ensure Wellington’s forests are restored to their former health, by:
- Planting native plants in their backyards to provide food for kereru including kowhai, titoki, pigeonwood, ngaio, karamu or five-finger
- Controlling pests on their land by trapping rats, stoats and weasels or by allowing the council to set bait stations or traps to control possums
- Getting involved in community groups restoring native habitat. Contact your local council for information on groups in your area or contact NZ Trust for Conservation Volunteers at http://www.conservationvolunteers.org.nz/ or Conservation Volunteers New Zealand http://www.conservationvolunteers.co.nz/
- Controlling domestic cats by fitting a bell to their collar
- Monitoring the seasonal behaviour of Kereru in backyards
More information on how you can get involved on the Kereru Discovery Project website http://www.kererudiscovery.org.nz/get_involved.php