$106,000 Govt funding for environment, species protection in Otago

Two Dunedin projects aimed at protecting threatened species and enhancing the environment have secured government biodiversity funding.

The Dunedin projects receive $106,896, and are among 71 throughout the country receiving a total of $1.3 million in Biodiversity Funds, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard and Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick announced yesterday.

"The Biodiversity Funds are really zeroing in on the national priorities for biodiversity, so that threatened species such as mudfish, kiwi and New Zealand dotterel will benefit," Mr Mallard said.

The Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group, which is working toward a pest-free peninsula, was given $35,000 to begin stage one: community consultation to investigate and develop options for possum eradication on the peninsula.

The Dunedin City Council was to receive $71,896 over three years to assist with the employment of a landowner liaison officer.

The officer would be a key contact for landowners with areas of significant biodiversity value on their properties, and would provide advice on management and protection options, and undertake baseline monitoring of biodiversity values.

Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group chairwoman Irene Scurr said the funding provided the kick-start that the group, which worked for the Otago Peninsula Community Board, had been waiting for.

"We are delighted with the support from the biodiversity advice fund, and from local groups who have also given us their support," she said.

For the first time, a strategic and planned approach to possum control would be taken on the peninsula, and the scale of work done would be much larger.

Possums were a significant problem on the peninsula, with extensive impact on the areas valued by unique biodiversity.

"There is a real need to protect the remnants of natural vegetation, and to retain something of the natural character of the peninsula vegetation in this important landscape," Mrs Scurr said.

When the management plan was completed, the group would look to physically implement the proposed programme.


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