Big things come from small beginnings
Zoo News - Posted 9 June 2014
June 5 marked Arbor Day and World Environment Day - both action days for the environment, making choices that are good for people and our planet. Hamilton celebrated with the planting of more than 30,000 plants at Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park.
This year was particularly special. It is 10 years since the establishment of Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park and 150 years for Hamilton. It was also the official signing of a new pest control project working with Hamilton Halo partners Waikato Regional Council and Landcare Research.
Much of New Zealand’s native forests were cleared for farming by settlers in the 1800s however the flat nature of the Waikato catchment saw virtually all the area deforested. At 60 hectares, Waiwhakareke is the largest inland restoration project in the country. Creating this new forest is a partnership between Hamilton City Council, University of Waikato, WINTEC and Tui 2000.
Already Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park has drawn international recognition. It is one of Australasia's Highly Commended ecological restoration projects, as judged by the Global Restoration Network. When it is finished Waiwhakareke will be a rich resource for everyone to enjoy, supporting recreation, education, conservation and science.
Hamilton Zoo is fortunate to have this fabulous resource across the road from us. On Arbor Day the Zoo’s education team offered free educational tours to school groups. While the focus of the day is planting, these talks reinforce the importance of a place like Waiwhakareke.
We are lucky to have the support of experts from Landcare Research, Waikato Regional Council, Niwa and Department of Conservation who came along to speak with students. This year we had over 200 students attending talks on What happens in the lake, Invertebrates and tracking tunnels, Importance of native birds and plants, Project’s Halo and Echo and pests, lizards in your backyard.
A big thanks to Cheridan Mathers (Hamilton Zoo), Corinne Watts (Landcare Research), Therese Balvert (Waikato Regional Council - Project Halo and Project Echo), Tracey Burton (Niwa) and Carisse Enderwick (Department of Conservation).
Our very own volunteer zoo host and civic award recipient Lynn Falconer sums up the contribution of Hamilton people on Arbor Day nicely:
“They lined out in their hundreds along the skyline finally spilling over the ridge out across the bare field all ready to transform the landscape into a glorious growing haven for birds, insects and invertebrates. What a legacy to create for the future!”
Volunteers get ready to begin planting Hamilton Zoo Director Stephen Standley joins in
Check out more photos of the enthusiastic volunteers on Hamilton City Council’s facebook page.