The project will support the restoration of native bird populations by focusing on stoat control in the northern Abel Tasman and intensive rat control in the area surrounding the Totaranui camp ground.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon announced the initiative, which builds on the airline’s existing work with DOC, at a sustainability event for business leaders in Wellington this morning.
“Air New Zealand is proud to support DOC with biodiversity projects that have a positive impact on our Great Walks and enhance the visitor experience,” he said.
“The Northern Abel Tasman project supports Air New Zealand’s aims to make these areas safe to bring back thriving populations of rare birds alongside the Great Walks and maintain and increase the size of existing populations.
“As New Zealand’s national carrier, we are very passionate about our own backyard and this project provides an opportunity to enhance biodiversity values alongside one of New Zealand’s iconic recreational areas.
“Since we partnered with DOC in 2012 to support biodiversity projects, conservation initiatives around New Zealand and the promotion of the Great Walks, we’ve established five biodiversity projects, transported more than 1600 native animals and seen a 30 percent increase in visitor numbers to the Great Walks.”
As part of the Abel Tasman project, a buffering system will be put in place to control predators such as the stoat and possum through trapping. A more intensive rat and wasp control operation is also proposed around the Totaranui campground including the headland to provide maximum predator control and allow forest birds to breed successfully.
Department of Conservation Director-General Lou Sanson says Totaranui is one of DOC’s busiest camp grounds with over 17,000 overnight visitors annually.
“Together with Air New Zealand’s support, we have an opportunity to restore the area surrounding the Totaranui camping area by introducing a robust predator control programme.
“By reducing predators, we have the potential to introduce other species to the area to ultimately encourage forest and wetland bird species to increase in number.”
Over the past four years, Air New Zealand has funded conservation projects along four Great Walks including Milford, Routeburn, Lake Waikaremoana and Rakiura. In addition to the new Abel Tasman project, Air New Zealand is also extending its biodiversity work along the Routeburn track including a project in a partnership with the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust and Ngai Tahu to protect and enhance the biodiversity values of the Upper Hollyford area. This includes increasing the current control areas for stoats, a major threat to native fauna. This work will benefit native species like rockwren, kaka, kea, cascade gecko, barrier skink and whio.
The airline is also reinitiating a biodiversity project at Lake Waikaremoana and will work closely with local Iwi, Tuhoe, to get the work underway in this year.
Tasman District Mayor Richard Kempthorne says it is tremendous to see Air New Zealand giving this support to DOC in the Abel Tasman Park which is an iconic attraction for the Nelson/Tasman region.
Air New Zealand’s support for the Department of Conservation is worth more than $1 million annually.