Funding from the Government's Jobs for Nature programme is enabling an ambitious $3.3m project to eliminate significant land-based weeds from Westland.
The Development West Coast (DWC) led project, through the Kotahitanga ki te Uru partnership, will provide work for up to 21 people over the next two years.
DWC Chief Executive Heath Milne said the Weed Free Tai Poutini project is in line with the region’s developing economic strategy and will have widespread economic and environmental benefits for the West Coast.
“The project will create employment to support communities hit hard by the economic impact of COVID-19, while also helping enrich our natural environment for future generations. Making the Coast an even better place to live, work and visit.”
The project was established through the Kotahitanga ki te Uru (working together for the West) partnership, which comprises Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae, Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio, West Coast Regional Council, Department of Conservation and Development West Coast.
Mike Meehan Chair of the Kotahitanga ki te Uru (KKTU) said the project will create jobs and compliment the other projects the KKTU has underway in pest eradication aimed at allowing nature to thrive without these invasive species.
“The connection between the people on the ground doing the mahi and our native flora and fauna they are helping, is meaningful on multiple levels.
“The KKTU Partnership is grateful for the funding that is crucial to ensure nature thrives in South Westland and provides meaningful employment for our people working in partnership with mana whenua,” Mr Meehan said.
Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio Chairman Paul Madgwick said the project provides a rare opportunity to roll back some of the biodiversity losses before it is too late.
“Importantly it's not restricted to public conservation land so that flexibility gives it a greater chance to make a difference, including on Māori land, parts of which are also infested with foreign weeds,” Mr Madgwick said.
Mark Davies, Department of Conservation Operations Director Western South Island region, said through the project workers will search for and remove weeds from approximately 30,000ha of public conservation land from the Taramakau River in the north, to Barn Bay in the south, and from the mountains to the sea.
“The weed work will complement Predator Free South Westland efforts to eliminate predator animal species.
“It’s an exciting challenge - Westland is relatively weed-free so is one of the few places in New Zealand where this weed control goal is possible,” Mr Davies said.
The Weed Free Tai Poutini project will be delivered by MBC Environmental Services, who have been established on the West Coast for over 30 years.
Adam Walker, MBC Director, said: “We recently implemented a weed free team in the Buller, and we now look forward to the challenge and opportunity of building multiple weed free teams in the Westland and South Westland Districts.”
“This funding creates great opportunity for new employment and throughout the project we expect these teams to receive a high level of training and experience that will benefit our environment and communities.
“We aim to use the next two years to work on new synergies to find longer-term, sustainable work to keep our teams in meaningful employment to continue the legacy from which this funding has started,” Mr Walker said.
Other recent Jobs for Nature projects announced:
- Sustainable Wild Whitebait Fishery
- Sustaining the South Westland Community
- Arahura River restoration
Image: Mark Davies (DOC), Minister Kiri Allan, Heath Milne (DWC)