Environment · 24 Jan 2021

Fiordland ‘Buffer Zone Project’ Going Ahead

News Desk

News Desk

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Environment Southland’s existing weed control programme in the Te Anau area is receiving a boost, which will help to protect Fiordland National Park from invasive weeds while also providing jobs in the local community in 2021.

Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan announced today that $690,000 from the government’s Kaimahi for Nature fund would be given to the Fiordland Buffer Zone project over two years.

Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips welcomed the announcement, saying it was hugely positive news both for the environment and for local businesses who were hit hard by the December 2019 floods and then COVID-19.

“This is a fantastic opportunity which will help keep people in employment during the off-season, and at the same time expand our weed control work in the area.

“It’s the first time we’ve accessed the Kaimahi for Nature funding stream, and we’re thankful to the Southern South Island Alliance for supporting our application to the Department of Conservation.”

The project will involve weed control in sites throughout a 1km buffer zone alongside the Fiordland National Park, from Manapouri in the south to Milford Sound in the north. The aim is to stop invasive species like Cotoneaster and Darwin’s barberry from entering the park, protecting its biodiversity values for future generations.

Environment Southland biosecurity and biodiversity manager Ali Meade said councils, the Department of Conservation and private landowners had been working in the area for many years to prevent weeds from entering the park, and this project would enable them to target some areas of concern.

“Much of our previous weed control in the Te Anau area has been centred around Manapouri. This is an exciting opportunity to make a really big difference by removing weed seed sources across a much larger area, leaving a lasting legacy for the region.

“If these weeds are not contained and spread into the park, they could have a long-term and significant impact on our taonga and one of the nation’s most loved national parks.”

During the first year, work will focus on controlling seeding plants. Then during the second year it will shift to controlling any juvenile plants still left in the buffer zone.

Environment Southland will be running a procurement process to distribute the work as multiple contracts, enabling existing local companies to retain staff by reassigning them to weed control through shoulder seasons. There will also be a recruitment process for a coordinator to run the project.

Any businesses in the Te Anau area who are interested in the work can contact [email protected] to sign up to receive information as part of the tendering process. The coordinator role will be advertised separately on Environment Southland’s website www.es.govt.nz early next year.