$8 million available for community conservation projects

Community organisations, iwi and landholders will be able to apply for grants from an $8 million conservation fund to help save our native plants, birds and insects and habitats, Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage announced today.

Biodiversity protection will be the focus of the 2019 funding round for the Department of Conservation’s Community Fund.

Grants from the Fund help community organisations, councils, iwi and private landowners carry out practical conservation projects such as controlling weed and animal pests, planting and restoring habitats on private, Maori and public land so New Zealand’s indigenous plants and wildlife can thrive.

“With 4,000 indigenous plants and wildlife threatened or at risk of extinction, community action for conservation is essential if we are to reverse the decline of our biodiversity,” Eugenie Sage said.

Feedback from community groups, iwi and councils has led to changes in the Fund’s operation.

“Application forms and guidance are now live on the Department of Conservation (DOC) website to give potential applicants three months lead in time to plan and prepare their applications, substantially more than in previous years.

“The time between making an application and getting a decision is likely to be shorter as a result of changes in the decision making process.

“The intention is that groups will be able to get stuck in, start their projects sooner, and focus on what’s important – doing the mahi to restore indigenous biodiversity in their communities,” Eugenie Sage said.

The funding round goes from 25 February to 22 March 2019, with funding decisions announced mid-year. For more information and applications forms, visit DOC’s website: www.doc.govt.nz/doc-community-fund.

Examples of projects awarded funding in 2017 include:

  • Russell Kiwi Protection (Northern North Island) – A project designed to reinstate and sustain comprehensive control of predators and other pests that threaten wildlife and their bush and wetland habitats on the 3,400 ha Russell Peninsula.
  • Te Matapuna Restoration Project (Central North Island) – Driven by Project Tongariro, this project is focused on continuing ecological restoration involving willow control and restoring kahikatea, matai, ribbonwood forest next to the Waiotaka and Waimarino rivers.
  • Mitchells to Poerua Predator Control Programme (Western South Island) – A Lake Brunner Community Catchment Care Group project to establish an easily accessible trap line between Mitchells and Poerua (approximately 600 ha) to achieve reduced predator density levels and safer breeding areas for threatened native birds such as kiwi, kākā and kea.
  • Re-establishing kōkako on Mt Pirongia (Waikato) – The Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society are re-establishing kōkako on Mount Pirongia over a three year time-frame, transferring a total of 40 birds from Pureora and Tiritiri Matangi Island. These include birds descended from kōkako that were removed from Pirongia in the 1990s.

Background information:

  • The DOC Community Fund was established in 2014 to support community-led conservation projects on public and private land.
  • Funds will be directed towards practical projects aimed at conserving New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity. This includes initiatives focused on restoring natural habitats and populations of our native species.
  • More than $25 million has been awarded to 400 different conservation projects in the first four DOC Community Fund funding rounds.
  • Funding rounds usually take place annually with around $4.6 million available. The 2018 funding round was put on hold while DOC consulted on better ways to manage the fund. The allocated $4.6 million was added to the upcoming 2019 funding round, making it almost twice the usual amount at $8 million.
  • In addition to the $8 million, funding from the DOC Community Fund will be made available for a pilot programme to trial regional hubs. The hubs will provide support and improve co-ordination across community groups. The need for regional hubs was identified in the report Taonga of an Island Nation: Saving New Zealand’s Birds (2017) by the previous Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright.