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More Funding Success!

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Good news that we’ve had another successful funding application, with time with Environment Canterbury’s Waitaha Action to Impact Fund.

Th grant is to help us establish a baseline of data in a zone in the Wainui catchment called a “Site of Ecological Significance”, or SES for short.

As it turns out, a southern portion of the Wainui Valley is designated as an SES in the Christchurch District Plan. (Read the document here). It crosses 3 parcels of private land and includes the two DOC reserves. It covers an area of approximately 160ha, or 10% of the Wainui catchment.

As the summary says “The site is significant because it contains a range of representative, rare and distinctive indigenous vegetation communities including originally rare ecosystems. It supports a diverse range of vegetation communities and habitats and has a continuous altitudinal sequence from near sea level to almost 800 … The site is an important ecological linkage from the coast at Akaroa Harbour over the summit of Carews Peak into the upper Peraki Valley catchment.” It basically extends from the bottom of Jubilee Rd, right up to the DOD reserves of Carews Peak and Peraki Saddle.

Interestingly, because of the geography and the continuous spine of vegetation, we know (from existing trapping efforts) that there’s a lot of activity here. It’s an ideal place then to build some baseline data of pest and bird numbers, and start trialling the impact of trapping. The plan then is to:

Phase One: Benchmarking.

In this phase one of this project we are quantifying bird and pest populations and developing a benchmark on which we can measure success. We’ll achieve this is three ways:

  1. Benchmark the current bird population. 5 minute bird counts and a Cacophony Project Bird Monitor, will help us define what populations exist, and in what numbers.  This will help us understand the impacts, by measuring annually in predefined geographic locations. 
  2. Develop Photopoint Monitoring at various locations in the catchment, as a method of comparison to record changes in bush cover and observe changes in the vegetation.
  3. Identify and benchmark pest populations. Given the larger area and limited volunteer workforce, we must use technologies to help identify pest “hot spots” and numbers. We’ll be using one Cacophony Thermal camera and a static Trail camera rotated at biweekly intervals, so we can build a profile of pest numbers in key locations within the catchment. This will enable us to focus trapping efforts in areas with higher returns, as well as benchmarking pest numbers for future analysis.

Phase Two: Predator Control.

After 10 weeks of monitoring (10 data points or one fifth of the benchmarking) we plan on deploying traps to the areas with high pest populations. Our goal by the end of 2023, would be to have the automated traps deployed into the top 20% of the 50 monitored locations by pest population. We have been trialling an AT220 (rats and possums) with good success, based off the excellent results the Bush Bay Action group in Northland have achieved. But we’ll complement these with the much cheaper Trapinators.

The Trapping Plan

In the less accessible areas we’ll be installing 20 x NZ Auto Traps, ATT220’s. These aren’t cheap traps at around $400 each (thus just 20!) but they do “promise” to keep killing!  We’ll probably be adding around 30 Trapinators ($35 each) to compliment these, in more accessible areas where they can be checked and cleared weekly. Dependant on a current trial of long life lures (rats love possum lure!) we might also add 30 rat traps to complement the Trapinators. If you can keep the rats away from the possum lure, you obviously get more possums.

One of our Trial Plots. A Trapinator, a Flipping TImmy (using different log life lures) and a bait station.

Next Steps:

This is relatively limited trial and the logistics are generally in place. Unfortunately the funding doesn’t extend to monitoring or trapping in other parts of the valley, yet …

If you’re keen to help, occasionally checking traps for example, I’d love to hear from you. It will be somewhat physical (walking up and down hills) over private land.

If you’re keen to get trapping, drop me a line also. We still have traps available for residents on smaller sections, (below 1200m sq or so), and we can source cheaper traps for others.



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