This is the time of year when the vegetable garden dies, the
winter wood supply needs sorting and I get to think about the last
twelve months and write my annual report for the Trust.
year has been an important one for the governance of Great Barrier,
with the formation of a Local Board with greater autonomy than the
previous Community Board, and a much clearer legislative requirement to
address “environmental wellbeing”. Much of the Trust’s efforts recently
have been to try to get community concerns over biodiversity decline
into the Local Board Plan. These concerns are clearly indicated by the
presence of at least five Trusts employing people in rat and feral cat
control over considerable areas of private land on the island. The
trustees are encouraging members and supporters to make submissions to
the Local Board Plan, which could influence environmental policy on
Great Barrier for three or more years, or could just be more feel-good
(see our submission - link on Home Page)
summary the Trust’s submission to that plan is that in order to sustain
both the ecology and the economy of Great Barrier, activity is needed in
1. Improving and protecting biodiversity.
This means considering the options available for pest management and
eradication. The whole island – private and public land - must be
considered in this regard, which implies wide community consultation.
Herein lies our proposal for an “Issues and Options” study to address
(a) the ecological issues, (b) the economic implications (which are
considerable), and (c) the possible effects – through employment – on
GBI population growth and demography. There are tremendous
opportunities for capitalising on the improved biodiversity outcomes
that could be achieved if the major pests could be eliminated or
2. Visitor awareness.
Ensuring that more visitors are aware of, and can access, what is
presently available as biodiversity experience on Great Barrier. Too
many visitors go away commenting on the lack of bird life. The
Department of Conservation, Council and tourism agencies need to work
together to promote the island and manage the resource and the
infrastructure needed to access it. DoC is leading this dialogue. We
recommended the appointment of a research officer to collate
information, measure the annual cycle of visitor numbers and assess
accommodation requirements into the future.
3. Building capacity.
Jobs linking biodiversity with economic growth are present now on the
island and can be expanded in future. Here also we see the need to grow
local skills in these areas for future employment.
submission thus emphasises the third part of our mission statement: “to
work towards building an ecology-based economic framework for Great
rat and feral cat eradication are still central to the Great Barrier
Island Charitable Trust’s mission statement, the vision has always been
much wider, and our new vision statement “Bring back the Kokako”
encapsulates that and is in
accord with the vision of Ngati Rehua. This iconic bird was illustrated
on the cover of Issue 23 of the Environmental News and discussed by
Sonya Williams in that Issue. It was once frequent on the island and was
still present within living memory. The last pair were removed to
Little Barrier in 1994. Otherwise, they would certainly have been
eliminated by mammalian pests. As a community we know that we have lost
many bird species, that our forests are not what they once were, and
that the Department of Conservation doesn’t have the capacity to deal
with these issues. Basically it is up to us to decide what we mean by
our personal and local “environmental wellbeing” and to make sure that
our views are represented in the new legislation. Public meetings and
submissions on the ‘mining on Te Ahumata’ debacle clearly showed that
the majority of people on Great Barrier put environmental wellbeing
high on their list of priorities. I believe we can work out together
how to achieve the vision of bringing back kokako, if we as a community
have the will to do so.