Port Hills conservation awarded

HELPING: Rebecca Parish and Marie Haley from the ‘Wildside’ project accepted the 2017 Green Ribbon Award for Community Leadership on behalf of the trust.

Hard work by the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust has paid off.

The trust won the community leadership award at the Green Ribbon Awards for its extensive conservation work in the Port Hills.

The awards evening was held at a Parliamentary function co-hosted by Environment Minister Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry.

The trust was formed in 2001 out of a project called Wildside set up in the 1980s by a farmer wanting to protect the blue penguins wandering onto his property.

Among the trust’s work is liaising with farmers and other groups to protect wildlife with predator traps, keeping streams clean and looking after reserves on Banks Peninsula.

Trust general manager Maree Burnett said the award is national recognition and a testament to the efforts of the dedicated Wildside community and landowners.

Wildside still exists as part oft the trust.

The project has seen more than 700 predator traps set over 7000ha, which has enabled a dramatic turn-around in sea bird species in the area.

Today, around 25 per cent of the area has been protected through covenants and reserves, allowing the forest to regenerate. The area now boasts the largest private reserve in New Zealand – Hinewai – which covers 1570ha.

Said co-ordinator Marie Haley: “We are extremely proud of the years of hard work that have been recognised in this prize and our role as such a forward thinking and acting community that is far ahead in terms of species protection, protecting private forest habitat, predator control, and now, importantly, freshwater protection,” she said.