Local tamariki have been enlisted to help build more than 500 traps as part of an initiative to eradicate pests in and around Whakarewarewa Forest.
Rotorua Trust has granted Whakarewarewa Pest Trust $16,316 to help fund pest trapping equipment, including working with local schools to supply materials for building trap boxes, automated traps for remote areas and signage to educate forest users of their purpose.
Whakarewarewa Pest Free Trust aims to improve the local ecosystem by eradicating invasive species and encouraging native taonga to thrive.
The trapping network is 100 per cent volunteer maintained with no paid administration.
Whakarewarewa Pest Free representative Anthony Garea says the Trust has 1300 traps out in Whakarewarewa and has built an additional 700 to be used in the area.
Since trapping began, the Trust has seen a significant increase in bird numbers in the area.
“We have eradicated more than 4000 pests from the forest, including 2200 Rats, 300 possums and 75 Mustelids. We have more than 140 active volunteers and contribute more than 5000 hours of volunteer time per year.”
Garea says with the help of this funding, school groups will receive the trap kitsets helping tamariki learn basic construction skills and environmental lessons.
“The funding will allow us to purchase rat traps and hardware. Using free timber from Red Stag, tamariki at local schools, including Lynmore and Whakarewarewa, will make more than 500 complete trap boxes for the forest and wider community.”
All the pupils involved in the initiative will be able to take a trap box home if they wish.
The funding will also supply possum traps for schools to install and reduce the number of pests around the perimeter of town.
Garea says protecting the native environment is an obvious benefit of the initiative, as well as the increased number of native birds returning to the forest and creating a more sustainable ecosystem.
“We believe it is essential to involve and educate tamariki about environmental issues and by having them participate directly in the work we do, we hope to empower them and show that they can make a difference.”
Rotorua Trust Chairman, Stewart Edward, says the Trust hopes this initiative will encourage increased community involvement in the forests and lakes surrounding Rotorua.
“This work is required to protect our native taonga for current and future generations and it directly connects the community with a common goal of improving our local environment.”
If you are a school in the local Rotorua area and would like to participate or are interested in volunteering, please contact Whakapestfree@gmail.com.