Sika Foundation turns sights onto ecological restoration

The Government’s Jobs for Nature programme is investing in a project to manage the impact of deer and other predators in the Kaimanawa and Kaweka Forest Parks which will not only improve the health of the forest but also protect the native whio or blue duck.

“The project will develop a site-specific management programme for deer within the forest park to ensure ecosystems are healthy and allow the canopy to regrow,” Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.

It will be delivered by the Sika Foundation, a hunter-led, conservation focused non-profit entity with a particular interest in sika deer.

“Alongside the deer work, the foundation will support the other pest control work already occurring to target rats, ferrets, stoats and weasels,” Kiri Allan said.

“This will enhance habitat for the critically-threatened whio/blue duck.

“The Foundation will receive nearly $700,000 over the next three years for work on a scale not before seen in this area.

“The benefits will be many. As well as ecological restoration, there will be an outreach programme into schools and some of the meat harvested will be distributed through food banks for those in need.

“This project will also support recreational outcomes, through the maintenance of the Kaimanawa hut network. 

“With the addition of employing five people to deliver the work, this is one of those win-win projects,” Kiri Allan said.

In its initial phase the focus will be on Kaimanawa Forest Park, but following further engagement with mana whenua the project hopes to include Kaweka Forest Park.

“Given the way deer populations are expanding across the country, it is really positive to see special interest groups such as the Sika Foundation stepping up with proposals to address the problem in a way which is measured, sustainable and considers multiple outcomes,” Kiri Allan said.