Kids restore the Kepler

“Kids Restore the Kepler” is a project of huge significance to the Fiordland Community. The aim of this project is to restore the Kepler area to its former state. The overall focus is to reduce the number of pests, in the lower 3,000ha of the Kepler and then eventually the entire Kepler peninsula. From here, the next step is to bring back some of the species which are currently close to extinction in this area. Whenever a species disappears, Fiordland loses part of its iconic history.

The students of Fiordland College, the Te Anau Primary School, in conjunction with the Fiordland Conservation Trust and the Department Of Conservation launched the “Kids Restore the Kepler” project in Te Anau last night.

Image cannot be displayedAttending the launch were representatives of Kids restore New Zealand, who announced their sponsorship of Stage 1 of the project.  Also present were Fiordland College staff and students, Representatives of Te Anau Primary School, Department of Conservation Staff, and interested community members.

Rachel Cockburn, Trust Manager of the Fiordland Conservation Trust, said that the community is incredibly lucky to have Kids Restore New Zealand committing such significant funding to a conservation project of this scale in Fiordland. Kids Restore New Zealand is an offshoot of the Air New Zealand Environment Trust.

Reg Kemper, Area Manager for the Department of Conservation’s Te Anau Area Office, said visitors to the Kepler Track should be deafened by the sound of birds, able to marvel at the plant life and witness amazing invertebrates, but introduced pests have devastated their homes. Some species are still present but they need more protection to ensure their long-term survival. By controlling stoats, rats and possums, the unique flora and fauna of this area will increase and this is expected to have a spill over effect into the Te Anau township. The ability to get involved with this project will be open to everyone and is strongly encouraged.
Emma McLean (age 15) who is the spokesperson for the Fiordland College Students, said that the project has taught them new skills every day, enabling them to take care of their environment and its sustainability. She said there is no better way of doing this than getting Fiordland children out into the environment.

“What is so exciting about this project is that it has the potential to deliver the best of both environmental and educational outcomes for our students” Linda Miller, Principal of Fiordland College, said. “Students from Fiordland College will make a difference in the world as a result of their involvement in this project of international, national and local significance.”

The various groups involved in Kids Restore the Kepler will continue to work on the project until significant and positive change is brought to the Kepler area.

The Mayor of Southland, Frana Cardno, said that this is a very exciting project for Fiordland and New Zealand. “This is a chance for our young people to show their leadership and preserve our heritage for future generations”.

As Ruud Kleinpaste, Trustee of Kids Restore New Zealand said “Without a healthy biodiversity we have no hope for prolonged human life in Fiordland or on the planet. So we must restore our biodiversity before we do anything else!”

Written by Emma McLean (age 15) and Oliver Jackson (age 15).

 

Given the size of this area – some 3000 ha, this is a considerable project.  With a key focus on student and community involvement, there are now five schools involved in various ways. These are Fiordland College, Te Anau School, Mararoa School, Fiordland Kindergarten and Southern Stars Early Learning Centre.

 

There have been many activities undertaken in the years the project has been underway. These include preparing seed fall monitoring, camps and field trips, adopting a trap line, trap checks and re-baiting and each child participates in the ‘Meet the Locals; bird song activity’ – an initiative to increase bird identification in preparation for bird monitoring at a senior level.