Two large-scale projects — Taranaki Mounga and Taranaki Taku Turanga — have come together in the Taranaki region with the long-term goal of making the whole region predator free. The combined area for these projects is an impressive 700,000 hectares.
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At the centre of the Taranaki region stands Taranaki Mounga surrounded by the Egmont National Park. This area forms the heart of the ecological restoration underway in the region.
This project was established in 2016 in collaboration the Taranaki Iwi Chairs Forum, NEXT Foundation, DOC and several other organisations. It focuses primarily on 34,000ha of Egmont National Park and encompasses Mount Taranaki, Pouakai and Kaitake Ranges and extends 3km to the protected Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands.
It is a large-scale ecological restoration project with a focus on removing introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums.
The project has already significantly reduced predator and goat numbers. Tōutōuwai/robin have been successfully reintroduced to the area and whio/blue duck numbers have increased substantially since 2010 with an estimated 200 birds now in the national park.
Taranaki Taku Tūranga – Towards Predator-Free Taranaki
This project is led by the Taranaki Regional Council in collaboration with community, iwi, hapu, landowners as well as the Taranaki Mounga Project.
The project starts in the New Plymouth area, Oākura and the Kaitake Range with three different work streams – rural, urban and Restore Kaitake.
The urban project is well underway with hundreds of traps in people’s backyards in New Plymouth. The goal is getting 1 in 5 households trapping for possums and rats. As the project expands other urban areas will be targeted.
Taranaki schools are also being encouraged to get involved and students are embracing their role in helping protect and enhance the region’s biodiversity — birds, lizards, insects, invertebrates and plants.
Farmland forms a large part of the project, with many landowners already involved in controlling possums on their land. The rural project is utilising new IOT (Internet Of Things) technology, along with traditional, proven trapping techniques, to scale up existing trapping work.
The new wireless trapping network will notify trappers and the Council of real-time captures and when traps need servicing, allowing more efficient trapping. The programme will be rolled out in sections around the mountain, over 10 years, to eventually cover the province.
The Taranaki Taku Tūranga and Taranaki Mounga projects come together in the Kaitake Range where they are working together to reduce possum numbers to zero density on farm, urban and conservation land — over 8,600 hectares.
A core part of the work so far has been the creation of a “virtual barrier” at Puketi, on the slopes of Mt Taranaki, to prevent the reinvasion of possums. 1,300 high-tech traps run the length of the property to form the front line. An exciting development in November 2019 was the discovery of a kiwi footprint at Puketi, the first time in 20 years!