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Bringing back the bird life in Kaipātiki

Community led initiative Pest Free Kaipātiki Restoration Society are putting in the hard yards trapping pests and planting native trees: and seeing great results.

The group, started in 2015 by the Kaipātiki Restoration Network, covers forty to fifty reserves and significant ecological areas within the Kaipātiki area of Auckland: including some of the region’s best kauri reserves.

“Our goals,” explains Jo Knight, PFK Chair, “are to retain and grow these forest areas with the help of the local Board, Auckland Council and Trees that Count. It’s a huge job that extends far beyond the next few years.”

The initiative has set up ‘enhanced halos’ to surround the reserve areas, particularly reserves containing kauri, which includes trapping in every second or third house, a street coordinator and a tool shed providing equipment for free community use. 

“It’s proved to be a very successful,” says Jo. “Sometimes people just need to know what they can do to help. We now have a register of over 1000 people interested in lending a hand with the work, so we’re looking to expand over the whole of Kaipātiki!”

Pest Free Kaipātiki have planted hundreds of new native trees over the past few years, and are delighted to receive another 1000 funded native trees through Trees That Count in 2021. 

“The 400 native trees we received in 2020 were planted in a wetland area that had been degraded from road run-off,” says Jo. “The community cleared an enormous amount of weeds, and now an area that was almost totally ginger is filled with kahikatea and other natives.”

Providing accessible forested areas to improve mental well-being is a significant motivation for Pest Free Kaipātiki, and over the COVID-19 lockdown period they saw the fruits of their labour as many families enjoyed walking through the bush areas.

Increasing habitat for native wildlife is, likewise, a huge driver for the group’s work. “We’re measuring greatly increased numbers of bird life in the areas we work, in some places three to four times as many. We know that we need to provide them with year-round habitat and food sources,” says Jo.

The group is also looking to provide artificial nesting boxes, eventually even furnishing some with cameras to help educate and excite community members about the birds’ presence.

“It’s delightful to see birds appearing in our bush that we haven’t seen before. There are lots of kākā, and a karearea (falcon) has arrived that roosts at the end of my street. Miromiro (tomtits) are also rare forest birds to spot within an urban environment.”

Pest Free Kaipātiki works closely with a restoration advisor to look at which native trees will fit well within their ecosystems, and provide food for manu like kererū and kākā: for example, trees like rewarewa will provide enormous amounts of sustenance.

The group’s work only continues to expand as the bird populations grow. “When we first started doing things in the reserve, people would just walk past. Now people stop and take interest, and sometimes end up becoming involved,” says Jo.

“It brings the community together: we’ve seen that really strongly, and people also become immensely proud of what they’ve achieved. But we know there’s still an enormous amount to do for our trees and wildlife.”

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