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North West Wildlink, Auckland

With spring 2016 just around the corner, there was no better time to get some native trees in the ground in New Zealand’s largest city. 

Founded in 1995, The Gecko NZ Trust is an environmental organisation based in Auckland which aims to help communities restore the habitat and biodiversity in shared community landscapes. They work alongside many communities in the Auckland region, engaging them to achieve biodiversity outcomes. 

One of their main efforts is the North West Wildlink project. Alongside partners Auckland University and Auckland Council, the project seeks to create a pest and weed free native habitat in the corridor between the islands in the Hauraki Gulf and the Waitakere ranges. The project is divided into three parts; Wildlink Wonders (sites of high biodiversity), Linking Sites (native corridors between the Wonders), and Matrix Efforts (activities such as negation of pests and weeds or enhancement of pollen to improve wildlife habitats).  

The major barrier to achieving their aims is the cost of plants, says Gecko General Manager Jo Davies. “We would love to plant all the time, but we are limited by what we can afford and what sites we can prepare in time”. 

In 2016, Trees That Count funded the planting and maintenance of 5000 locally sourced, native trees, including kanuka, mahoe and red mapou 

Sunday 28 August was the day on which the majority of the trees were put into the ground. Local community members were welcomed at Dairy Flat Community Hall and assisted in planting the natives along the Blackbridge and Horseshoe bush road landscapes. These connect primarily to the south east where the major North West Wildlink connections are, up towards Whangaparaoa, and south west to Paremoremo, Riverhead and the Waitakere ranges 

The community has identified the opportunity to build on and expand these areas of native bush, as well as enhance and strengthen ecosystem structures such as bush edges already present. The objective was to extend the existing Wildlink Wonders in the area, create some new Linkages between them and, with the remaining trees, plant in urban areas for additional habitats. 

Davies said events like the planting day stimulate widespread interest. “It was fantastic. Days like this really incentivise the communities we work with. Having trees available for this specific project really lifts morale. It has had an instant effect and was very well-received”.