Tuesday, September 11, 2012

'Huge rewards' from penguin conservation

By Rebecca Fox on Tue, 11 Sep 2012
The Regions: Otago | Conservation
Moira Parker checks on the progress of plants at the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust nursery. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Moira Parker checks on the progress of plants at the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust nursery. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago Peninsula, with all its flora and fauna, is very special to Moira Parker. Rebecca Fox asks this year's winner of the Coastal Otago Conservation Award about her passion for conservation work.  

What is it about the projects you are involved in that got you interested and continues to interest you?
I've always had a strong interest in natural history and a consequence has been protecting bush remnants as a member of Save The Otago Peninsula Inc (STOP) and helping set up the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust. I also have a feeling that we can do more for the flora and fauna of the Otago Peninsula.

Lots of aspects maintain my interest, especially the other people who are involved. I particularly enjoy increasing my knowledge of native plants and taking part in regular bird-monitoring for the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group.

How are the projects you're involved in benefiting conservation?
The acquisition of land at Okia and Tavora by the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust has not only benefited the yellow-eyed penguin but also other species of plants and animals. Riparian planting and dune restoration, plus extensive natural regeneration, have greatly enhanced biodiversity.

What do you get out of your work in conservation?
There are huge rewards in seeing the progress of some earlier conservation initiatives.
The Peninsula bush remnants covenanted in the 1980s and 1990s and the two Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust purchases; Okia Reserve purchased in 1991 and Tavora Reserve in 1993. I get a lot of pleasure from the achievements of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust plant nursery. And, every day I appreciate 19 years of forest regeneration on the QE2-covenanted property at Varleys Hill, jointly owned with my husband.

What challenges do you face and how have you overcome them?
Lack of understanding of the damage that some naturalised garden plants can do. For example, Darwin's barberry infiltrates and takes over native bush. Banana passion fruit and Bomarea are both very destructive vines.
Weed control requires sympathetic landowners providing access on to private land, funds for herbicide and assistance from groups such as the Doc Conservation Corps and Dunedin City Council Task Force Green.
Grant applications and writing submissions are a chore, but essential for many conservation activities.

What would you like to do in the future, through conservation?
The formation by local landowners of the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group "pest-free peninsula" is a very exciting development. I hope to continue my involvement with the first stage of the project, which is to reduce possums to negligible levels. My particular interest is the monitoring of any changes in vegetation, bird numbers and rodents that may result from reduced possum numbers.
Secondly, the purchase by the Dunedin City Council of the spectacular Akapatiki/Harbour Cone block is fantastic. So far, the planting and weed control have been entirely a community effort and as a member of STOP, I look forward to working more closely with the city council.
Harbour Cone offers great opportunities for revegetation of unstable hill slopes and enhancement of the creeks. And the public walking tracks allow people to see at first hand what is happening.


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