WWF-NZ chooses Trust
Thursday 13th September, 2007The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust was chosen to be part of a WWF-New Zealand report on the social and economic benefits of community conservation projects, released 6 August to mark the start of Conservation Week. Findings from three community-led programmes showed that the simple act of planting a tree or trapping a possum creates a virtuous circle in local economies.
In the South Island, the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust is reversing the flagging fortunes of the world's rarest penguin by replanting its shore habitat and protecting birds from dogs and other predators in specially-purchased sanctuaries.
But they've also helped create a thriving eco-tourism opportunity, boosting the Dunedin economy by some $2m a year.
Every year the Trust's nursery turns out 12,000 native plants, nurtured in part by the large team of willing volunteers, including young people from at risk youth groups and rehabilitation schemes, as well as older volunteer groups.
At Raglan, the once-devastated Whaingaroa Harbour barely supported three commercial fishers. Today, after a 12-year replanting and water care programme, eight fishers report healthy catches and local farmers are saving big money after fencing stock out of waterways and retiring riparian land, while milk production shot up by 20 per cent.
Meanwhile, in the East Cape, the Te Rangatahi o te Whenua Trust has offered more than 200 at risk young people an alternative education. It provides them with the skills and support they need for self-employment as possum trappers, or fencers or nursery managers, reconnecting them with their tikanga at the same time.
"The impact of such projects is far greater than the direct environmental, social and economic benefits," says WWF-New Zealand executive director Chris Howe. Through its Habitat Protection Fund, WWF-New Zealand part-funded the three projects the report focuses on. "They are the first critical step towards a lifestyle shift that will ultimately determine whether New Zealand achieves its goal of becoming the world's first truly sustainable nation."
Howe hopes the report - entitled Not Just Trees in the Ground - will encourage more corporate and local government support for community conservation. "I believe a quantum increase in support for community groups will deliver far more than the trees they plant or the weeds they pull out."
If you would like to apply for HPF funding for a local conservation project, go to www.wwf.org.nz/HPF to find out more.
Not Just Trees in the Ground: The Social and Economic Benefits of Community-led Conservation Projects is a WWF-New Zealand publication available free of charge by contacting WWF-New Zealand on 04 499 2930.