Council recognises monitoring of ecological indicators is a crucial component of all environmental projects. Key pre-identified indicators will tell you whether or not a group's restoration activities are having the desired effect.
Often monitoring is outside the capacity of environmental groups, particularly in their early years. It usually requires a work load they had not anticipated when undertaking their project.
In these cases Council's Environmental Development Officer will sometimes contract someone to ensure appropriate monitoring is undertaken. If the contractor is a suitably skilled group member or from the local hapu, all the better as we're supplying work to locals.
Main benefits of monitoring are:
- Favourable results offers statistical proof of success
- Helps give funders assurance their money will not be wasted
- For volunteers monitoring it is often one of the more enjoyable activities.
Some Council funded monitoring programmes outlined below:
OPUREORA AND WAIHIRERE WETLANDS WETLAND ON MATAKANA ISLAND
A suitably qualified member of the local hapu was contracted to monitor a variety of indicators over 12 months during the period of 2009-2010 for two local wetland restoration programmes. This was repeated in 2017- 2018 and some interesting comparisons were made. This not only fulfils the needs for accurate ecological information but helps create local employment.
Some of the indicators monitored included:
- water temperature and dissolved oxygen
- water levels and pH levels
- presence of, and number of, birds
- presence of, and number of, aquatic (fish) species.
- These studies have set a baseline of ecological knowledge that can guide future studies; project extensions and management practices.
Otanewainuku Forest canopy cover and possum browse
A suitably qualified member of the Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust was contracted to collate historical information relating to the state of the forest canopy. This was co-related to possum control operations going back to 1994. This study confirmed possum control had a direct effect upon the health and diversity of the bush and highlighted those control operations which were most successful.
Indicators monitored and collated included -
Canopy cover of kohekohe, mahoe, kamahi, and pate (6 lines); Tree mortality (dieback); Stem use (by possums); Pest control occasions and methods back to 1994; Pre and post contact RTCs (percentage of possums present).
Maketu Spit ecology - invertebrates
In 2010, the Maketu Ongatoro Wetland group were rewarded for their successful work by winning the Supreme Trustpower Award. The group was also given a national level award from the Dune Restoration Trust of New Zealand for the 'Best Coastal Restoration Project'.
In 2010 the group signed a Biodiversity Management Plan with Bay of Plenty Regional Council and other signatories namely, Department of Conservation and Council which draws $150,000 over the first years.
This included a comprehensive study of the Maketu spit which revealed a treasure trove of biodiversity and the discovery of up to five new insect species.