Volunteers care for region
Friday, 24 June 2011 11:14 a.m.
Hundreds of Bay of Plenty residents willingly give their time and expertise to protect and enhance our environment and to help keep our harbours and lakes safe.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Acting Chief Executive Mary-Anne Macleod said volunteers make a huge difference to a wide variety of areas around the region - including bush, coast, harbours, lakes, estuaries, cultural and heritage sites.
"Volunteers take part in coastal, estuary, lake, stream and land care groups, Weedbusters and other community groups," she said. "Without them, we wouldn't make such a difference to the environment."
"This week is Volunteer Awareness Week and it's a great opportunity for us to recognise and thanks our volunteers for all their good work across the region.
"They pitch in to care for the special places so that we - and future generations - can all enjoy them," she said. "Many of these volunteers work incredibly hard and are highly passionate about what they do.
"From rat trapping at Lake Tarawera to planting and weeding native plants across the region; from pest control across the sand dunes to high in the Kaimais; restoring salt marsh habitat in Nukuhou… volunteers are hard at work throughout the year and from one end of our region to the other," Ms Macleod said..
"Most of our volunteers are with care groups - coast care, estuary care, land care or stream care, or are groups who receive Environmental Enhancement Fund support" she said.
"But not all our volunteers are land-based. We also have volunteer harbour wardens who support our harbour masters in the Rotorua Lakes and coastal harbours.
Last summer 75 volunteer wardens patrolled boat ramps talking to boaties and educating people on safe boating practices. Regular training sessions are held to bring all wardens up to date with legislation and procedural changes.
Throughout our region there are almost 70 care groups in the Bay of Plenty involving more than 1500 volunteers.
"Care Groups are organised community groups which work to protect and enhance a local area of environmental importance, or control pests. We support recognised care groups with funding, technical advice and experience.
"We also ensure our policies support individuals and groups who want to take action and we often work with other agencies to support our volunteers.
"For example, next week we have a group of 10 volunteers at Pāpāmoa East coming from Conservation Volunteers New Zealand to help plant, weed and fence for the week," Ms Macleod said.
About 900 people are registered Coast Care volunteers - from 30 groups. Last year more than 50 school groups were involved and more than 2100 people took plant in volunteer planting days.
Coast Care volunteers have planted more than 180,000 native coastal dune plants during the past couple of years, and held more than 200 Coast Care events, on top of individual landowners doing their own plantings.
The Regional Council works in partnership with Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty, Ōpōtiki and Whakatāne District Councils and the Department of Conservation on the Coast Care programme.
About 500 people participate in 12 Estuary Care groups, and about 130 are involved in 24 land care groups.
Weedbusters, a Department of Conservation initiative supported by regional councils, is also active in the region.
Care groups are generally started by a group of concerned neighbours who want to improve either public or private land, or a coastal area getting together.
If the group has sound environmental objectives and commitment, the Regional Council will register it as a care group. This gives the group access to resources and support.
The Regional Council can help a group to get started, help plan and manage projects, provide technical advice and materials, help to produce flyers and communications and lend equipment for the work a group wants to do.
The Regional Council recently revised "A helping hand" - a booklet about how the Regional Council can help. The booklet contains information about Care Groups, the Environmental Enhancement Fund, support for riparian and biodiversity protection, hapu and iwi planning documents - and lots more.
Want to know more? Check out our website www.boprc.govt.nz or call us on 0800 884 880.
For further media information contact Yvonne Rooney, Senior Communications Advisor, on 021 289 8380