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Skinks prefer dunes with diving petrel burrows

black circles = dunes with burrows, white circles = withoutblack circles = dunes with burrows, white circles = withoutOur 2016 scholarship recipient Johannes Fischer has published another paper in relation to his diving petrel research. This time he compared the occurrence of skinks in dunes with and without diving petrel burrows.

Two skinks were surveyed: the Stewart Island green skink (Oligosoma aff. chloronoton) and the southern grass skink (O. aff. polychroma). Both skinks are more common in the dunes with burrows. However the difference was more pronounced with the Stewart Island green skink. If one of them was present, the other one was less likely to be there too. The larger size of the Stewart Island green skink could explain the different results. It likely outcompetes the southern grass skink.

Read the full paper.

Help wanted for South Westland Coastal Clean-up.

The Department of Conservation needs your help to clean up the litter released from the Fox Glacier Landfill before the spring rains come and wash the litter into the ocean, and the marine reserves inhabited by Hectors dolphins and penguins.

We need at least 90 volunteers a day to help alongside DOC and the Defence Force and can provide accommodation and food in exchange for your efforts. If you can come for a number of days and have some time off, or want to take the long road home, there is much to see and enjoy around Fox Glacier.

The South West of New Zealand is one the great natural areas of the world. It is internationally recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Within this area lies Westland Tai Poutini National Park. From mountain to sea, it has landscapes of untouched beauty and is a stronghold for rare plants and animals living in a range of habitats.

  • The only naturally occurring population of the nationally vulnerable rowi/Ōkārito brown kiwi (New Zealand’s rarest kiwi) occurs within the Park, confined to an area of lowland forest near Ōkārito and surrounds.
  • Ōkārito Lagoon is famous for the stunning kōtuku/white heron.
  • The threatened kāmana/crested grebe, can be found on Lake Māpōurika
  • The wetland systems near the Ōkārito and Pouerua Hāpua/Saltwater lagoons are nationally and internationally important for their freshwater and estuarine conservation values.
  • Kea are common throughout the park, and the forest is alive with birdlife.
  • The nationally endangered the South Island Hector’s dolphin is found along the West Coast’s amazing coastline

More information and how to register can be found on our website https://www.doc.govt.nz/get-involved/volunteer/in-your-region/west-coast/operation-tidy-fox/

Spring floods are our concern, and we really need to get as many people as possible out on the river helping to clear the litter as soon as possible. The marine wildlife and iconic West Coast beaches are at risk if we don’t clear it in time.

Hauraki Gulf gets help from new government advisory committee

A new committee has been formed to progress the visions and aspirations developed for the Hauraki Gulf. The committee is called Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari Ministerial Advisory Committee and was announced by the Ministry of Conservation and Fisheries today.

The environment of the Hauraki Gulf has been in decline for decades and new approaches were needed to address this. Iwi and stakeholders have been successfully brought together to find solutions.

One of the committee members is Raewyn Peart of the Environmental Defence Society, who was the keynote speaker at our Whitianga conference in 2015.

Read EDS’s media release or a longer article in the NZ Herald for more detail.

Rockfall Cape Kidnappers prompts safety improvements

The rockfall that caused a popular walk at Cape Kidnappers to be closed will continue to be out of bounds for the foreseeable future.

DOC, who managed 1.5 km of the 9 km walk has reviewed the safety rating of the walk and concluded that it shouldn’t have been promoted as a Day Walk. Measures have been taken in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the mistakes made. Read the full story.