Boost for community freshwater restoration projects

A project to support volunteer efforts to look after streams and rivers is getting a boost thanks to support from DOC’s Community Conservation Fund announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage today.

“The government is backing efforts to look after waterways with $199,400 for the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust from the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Community Fund for the Trust’s nationwide NZWaterCitizens.co.nz project, collaborating with the National Advisory Group for Freshwater Citizen Science,” said Eugenie Sage.

“This builds on the success of nearly 20 years effort by the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust resulting in more than 100,000 trees planted along waterways, and more than 92,000 people engaged in river monitoring.”

“This funding will provide on the ground support for community groups around Aotearoa wanting to take the next step in their freshwater restoration project, making the connection between science and practice.

“The project is focussed restoring freshwater ecosystems through educating and training people, with the goal of an environment in balance: Mana moana, mana wai,” she said.

This is achieved through positive connection with people and place through experiential education. The Trust undertakes this through engagement of schools and community groups in waterway restoration projects, and ongoing monitoring to assess benefits.

Implementing a restoration plan gives volunteers ownership, but community groups often want to go one step further and evaluate the impact of the restoration plan they have put into practice. To increase confidence in community-based freshwater monitoring that feeds into restoration and conservation management, community groups need to be competent in how to monitor.

DOC Community Funding ($199,400) will enable Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust to:

  • Plan and deliver a national “Train the Trainers” event which results in trainers having the skills to train and support community groups using the Stream Health Monitoring Assessment Kit (SHMAK) developed by NIWA, throughout New Zealand. Mountains to Sea Wellington (MSTW) and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) have produced a series of freshwater monitoring training modules utilising the SHMAK.
  • Assist community groups with planning and implementation of freshwater restoration.
  • Build community capacity and understanding of freshwater through providing volunteer groups with monitoring training and access to SHMAK, and support development of freshwater monitoring plans.
  • Support community groups to upload their freshwater monitoring data to the NZ Water Citizens database.

About the DOC Community Conservation Fund

The DOC Community Conservation Fund was established in 2014 to support community-led conservation projects on public and private land. Funds are directed towards practical projects aimed at conserving New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity. This includes initiatives focused on restoring natural habitats and populations of our native species. More than $33 million has been awarded to over 600 different conservation projects in the first five DOC Community Fund funding rounds.

The current funding round was opened in February 2020 with a call for applications focussed on projects that restore the diversity of native plants and wildlife, including, pest control, habitat restoration and weed management.

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