Des has been in the bush since he was 15. He is now 92 and still lends a hand each week with pest trapping and pest plant control for his local care group in Whakamarama.

Volunteers like Des make up the membership of care groups, which carry out crucial work across the Bay of Plenty, benefitting both the community and the local environment.

Friends of the Blade, the group he gives his time to, is just one of the 50 care groups that help Bay of Plenty Regional Council extend their work programmes, while building community resilience. In return the Regional Council gains invaluable localised knowledge from the members' diverse skill-sets and experience.

It's a two way street with volunteers enjoying the opportunity to meet new people, develop their skills and helping the region to thrive. 

Volunteers contribute to coastal dune restoration, wetland and estuary protection, stream/lake margin management and control of pest plants and animals.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chief Executive Fiona McTavish said over the last year, despite COVID-19 interruptions, care groups and volunteers have generated amazing results.

In the Western Bay of Plenty 29 land care and estuary care groups have contributed to more than 17,500 volunteer hours.

In that time they have set over 3,800 pest control devices, caught more than 800 pests, and planted countless native plants and trees.

In the Eastern Bay of Plenty, volunteers have been responsible for planting 2,800 natives, caught in excess of 700 pest animals, and contributed to 3,200 hours of volunteer labour.

There are five very active care groups in Rotorua, some of them operating since the 1990's, carrying out crucial pest control work and native planting. 

Across the region 4,300 CoastCare volunteers and another 2,700 school students spent 7,900 volunteer hours planting 70,000 sand dune plants between June and September.

Ms Tavish said volunteer work was not only crucial for the environment but also helped to build communities.

“Over the last year our volunteers have contributed more than 30,000 hours to our local environment - we are so thankful and grateful for our volunteers at Toi Moana.

“Our strength is not as an individual but as a collective. We are strong and we serve our community because of the volunteers we have,” she said.


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