Penguins and dairy farms
Wednesday 4th July, 2012What do yellow-eyed penguin habitats and dairy farms have in common? The answer is native plants.
To breed, yellow-eyed penguins need sheltered sites, hidden from other breeding pairs, but much of their habitat has been destroyed. For more than twenty years, the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust (YEPT) has been fencing off and replanting breeding areas along the south-east coast of the South Island with native trees and flax.
One way in which dairy farmers can improve water quality is by fencing off waterways and planting the riparian strips with native plants.
The South Island Dairy event (SIDE) was held in Dunedin on 25 to 27 June 2012. Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust set up a display at which Dave McFarlane (field officer), Anita Pillai (YEPT nursery manager), Lala Frazer (founding trustee) and Tony Bulow (nursery assistant) showed the dairy industry how to successfully plant a riparian strip with natives.
About 490 people attended SIDE, some of whom have already fenced off and planted their waterways. But more than 360 took away the YEPT leaflet, Native plants for waterways, which contains basic information for planting riparian strips. A number of dairy farmers wanted to discuss plant maintenance, protection from pests, and suitable plants for growing in their areas. The YEPT, which had compiled a list of plant nurseries throughout the South Island, was pleased that delegates were able to add more suppliers' names from their local areas.
Organisers of the conference presented a cheque of $1500 to the YEPT in recognition of the good work of the Trust and also the unique presence of SIDE in Dunedin. (Traditionally, the venue of SIDE alternates between Lincoln University and Stadium Southland, which is still being rebuilt).
What do Mainland, yellow-eyed penguins and dairy farmers have in common?
Lala Frazer, when thanking SIDE for the cheque, stressed that yellow-eyed penguins had been helping sell the cheese and butter of Mainland, the main sponsor of the YEPT, for more than 21 years. Dairy farmers, of course, supply milk for Mainland products. Yellow-eyed penguins have also cemented the brand loyalty of Mainland through its barcode scheme, in which thousands of barcodes, each worth one dollar to the YEPT, have been returned over the years. The YEPT's long relationship with its sponsor, Mainland, was highlighted by posters and Trust staff wearing commemorative t-shirts.
The exposure given to the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, its work with penguins and native plantings, was excellent. The Trust was delighted that so many SIDE delegates appreciated the information about planting riparian strips on their dairy farms.