A goal to make an area of the Whakamarama bush pest free has taken a step forward with the help of $5000 by Western Bay of Plenty District Council.
The Blade area in the Kaimai-Mamaku State Forest Park is the site of a pest eradication programme led by a group of volunteers calling themselves Friends of the Blade.
Council's grant will enable trapping lines for possum and rats to be extended to a greater area of the park.
Friends of the Blade coordinator Colin Hewens says the project began after The Blade walking track was initiated by Whakamarama Community Inc., with the intent to enhance the native birdlife in a protected part of the forest.
Initially working within a 100-hectare area, the group has been granted a permit from the Department of Conservation to extend eradication into a further 200 hectares.
Council's funding will enable another 13 trap lines in the extension. The total cost of over $24,000 will enable setting up 130 possum traps and 260 rat traps set in a grid system – a project Colin hopes will be completed in two years.
When trapping began in May 2016, 25 tracker tunnels revealed 18 imprints of multiple rat tracks. Six weeks later only one card had a single rat's footprint. Possums too have taken a hit, with more than 440 trapped, – helped also by local fur trappers working in the area.
”We are very appreciative of the support from Council. This is a big project, but if we are to make a significant impact on this part of the bush we need to extend our trapping programme.''
He would like to see pests eradicated to the point where kokako, kiwi and kaka can be safely re-introduced in The Blade– as has been achieved at Otanewainuku Forest in Oropi.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council and BayTrust have also contributed to the eradication project.
Council's community relationship advisor Glenn Ayo says The Blade project adds to work being done by volunteers elsewhere in Western Bay's corridor remnant bush areas.
“We rely on these groups with a passion for our native bush and who have a strong community support network.''
Friends of the Blade are looking for more volunteers to help with the expansion of the trapping programme as the present volunteer force being at capacity.
Anyone interested can email email@example.com