Volunteers dig in to boost whitebait numbers

26 April 2012

Nine international volunteers are mucking in to preserve our native wildlife in the first of three fortnight-long programmes planned for Whitebait Creek.

The volunteers, coordinated by Conservation Volunteers New Zealand, will be in the Foxton Beach area until Friday 4 May cleaning up and preparing the site for planting as part of a NZ Landcare Trust-led project to restore the whitebait population.

Horizons Regional Council provided $30,000 to kick-start the project as part of its commitment to the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord and  Landcare is currently seeking additional funding to extend the project’s reach.

At a presentation held beside the creek on Tuesday, Landcare Manawatu-Whanganui regional coordinator Alastair Cole welcomed the support from overseas volunteers and emphasised the importance of community involvement.

“Working together we can make a real difference to this creek and its ecosystem and eventually within the entire catchment,” Mr Cole said.

“In cleaning up our rivers and streams we’re not only improving the habitat for our native wildlife, we’re also improving the habitat for ourselves and we look forward to working with the local community as well as international volunteers as the project moves forward.”

Work to restore the habitat will include weed management, fencing, planting and the removal of barriers that restrict fish migration.

Whitebait Creek is just one of several sites identified for habitat restoration and protection under the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord with similar work to be carried out in four sub-catchments to increase spawning rates and improve whitebait runs within the next 3-5 years.

For further information about the project or to become involved, please contact Alastair Cole at Landcare Trust on 0800 526 322 or email Alastair.cole@landcare.org.nz.