Conservation volunteers honoured at Encore Awards
A group restoring Queen Elizabeth Park on the Kāpiti Coast, children from Raumati South School, volunteers working on pest trapping and monitoring in the Rimutaka Forest Park, and a project to redevelop the Royal Wellington Golf Course are among this year's Encore Awards winners.
The Wellington Regional Council, the Department of Conservation's Wellington Hawke's Bay Conservancy and the Wellington Hawke's Bay Conservation Board developed the Awards to honour sustained commitment to environmental restoration, biodiversity and conservation in the Wellington region.
Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson said the efforts of volunteers, school children and businesses to improve the environment were an investment in New Zealand's prosperity.
"Our environment plays a central role in our health and well-being, and wealth. Our stunning natural environment and special places, which are part of our history and culture, draw thousands of overseas tourists to our country, creating 1 in 10 jobs and generating $20 billion for our economy.
"For the Department of Conservation, conservation leadership for a prosperous New Zealand means working together with all our communities and collaborating with other agencies to develop and share knowledge, tools and techniques.”
Wellington Regional Council Chair Fran Wilde said there had been some great biodiversity wins in the Wellington region at a local level as a result of communities taking responsibility for biodiversity on their patch.
"It's thanks to all of us working together – regional and local councils, the Department of Conservation, the Animal Health Board, and communities – that pest numbers in our region's forests are low, native forests are regenerating and much more forest is being planted.
"The most obvious success story is the growing populations of some of our native birds. Tui are flourishing, bellbird, whitehead, kakariki, tomtit and kaka numbers are increasing, and kereru are nesting in our region's parks and reserves."
Wellington Hawke's Bay Conservation Board Chair Kevin Trerise said conservation volunteers in the Wellington region were gaining new skills in restoration planting, pest control, monitoring, marketing, submissions and fundraising.
"The result is that the region's conservation and restoration projects are becoming more sustainable. Seeing a degraded habitat brought back to its former glory with its former inhabitants – the native birds, insects, lizards and fish – and noting the fitness, good humour and camaraderie of those who make it happen… these are good incentives to get involved in a community conservation project. And what better way of lifting community spirit than working together to restore a local taonga for the enjoyment and wellbeing of future generations?"