Bay of Plenty and Waikato will be the first regions in the country to benefit from a new voluntary conservation programme for land owners.
Forest & Bird is launching its Land For Wildlife programme (LFW), which aims to support private land owners to manage land in a way that benefits native plants and animals. It will initially be piloted on properties within the "Kaimai Connection" - the Aongatete and Te Puna catchments in the Bay of Plenty and the middle Waihou catchment in the Waikato.
Land For Wildlife project manager Hamish Dean says the programme is ideal for lifestyle block owners, orchardists and farmers, but can also be beneficial for schools, sports clubs, business estates and council-owned properties.
"It's basically for all land owners who are already doing conservation work on their properties or are aspiring to do so. It's free, voluntary and we hope land owners will see the programme as adding value to their land and the environment," Hamish says.
Those who sign up to the programme will have a LFW officer assess the conservation values on their land. They will receive free, expert advice on how to protect and restore wildlife species and habitat on their properties.
Advice will be tailored to suit each property. It could include advice on pest control, native revegetation or minimising erosion.
Hamish says the programme will help improve the regions' biodiversity.
"Some of our most threatened ecosystems are on private land, so hopefully we can expand the network of protected and enhanced land outside the conservation estate.
"Not only will this encourage more native birds and plants to farmlands, lowlands and orchards, it will improve ecosystem services like water filtration and carbon sequestration.".
Land for Wildlife has been running successfully in Australia for about 30 years, and Hamish hopes similar results here will enable the programme to be rolled out around the country.