Posted by Jed Wieland on Dec 03, 2017

This week, Roger Milne led a team of three speakers involved with the improvement of our environment.

Firstly, Roger Milne gave us an update on the Trees for Survival (TFS) programme.   Already his goal to increase by 25 a year, the number of participating schools has 17 prospects.

As Auckland Council no long provides funding, Roger is seeking commercial sponsorship where TFS is rewarded by commercial sponsorship on a tree/sales basis.

Richard Fullerton, a former teacher at St Kentigern College and currently teaching at Mt Albert Grammar spoke about his passion for TFS from a teacher’s perspective and how he sought enrol students into the passion he has for the environment through the TFS in schools planting programme.

Students are engaged in planting their own seeds, transplanting the plant grown from previous years students and then going to at risk sites to plant young trees when they have reached 500mm to 1 metre in height.

Richard gains obvious satisfaction when he sees his students’ eagerness to raise and plant out the seedlings they have grown, and the use of a simple innovation of a piece of carpet into which a keyhole had been cut. The carpet acts as a week suppressant and the trees can grow through the slot that has been cut.

A corresponding push for the eradication of predators is being assisted by a recently formed government entity designed to bring communities together, seeking to assist scientific breakthroughs to eliminate at least one predator species by 2025. Gene modification, is a possibility that can work along with the current mainstays that are traps and poison.

The third speaker, Colin Binstead, was trapper in one of our regional parks.   His aim is to trap and kill pests effectively using traps and poison, allowing the rehabilitation of the local environment including the protection of a number of endangered dotterel nesting at the park. 

Because of New Zealand’s distant location when it was part of ancient continents and its separation some 80 million years ago, it had few plant eating herbivores or predators.   New Zealand was haven to extensive bird life and a wide range of plants which changed when domestic or commercial species were introduced and ultimately expanded to the natural environment.   But now New Zealand has the highest number of threatened species.

Colin seeks to reverse the trend by removing predators and the fact that he only caught 9 feral cats in the last three years, 2 poossums, 50 rats, 1 – 2 weasels or stoats and 5 – 6 hedgehogs per year shows the difference his making on his “patch” and the skills he has developed to understand his targets and tailor baits and traps that work.