Did you know that there is one million species of bacteria in 30 grams of forest topsoil?

That was just one of the facts gleaned from this year's Regional Environment Network Western Bay hui, an event put on by Envirohub and NZ Landcare Trust in Katikati on Saturday. From the smallest of bugs to the tallest of trees, keen conservationists were enthralled by nationally revered speakers who provided information on tools that environmental groups could use to help their projects.

Dr Peter Maddison, local bug expert, spoke on the benefits of doing a bio blitz to understand what species were in the local environment. He helped to plan the largest bio blitz carried out in NZ in Katikati in 2015 and found hundreds of plants, animals, lichen, bacteria, pathogens and more.

West Auckland "weed warrior", Neil Henderson, shared his methods to remove weed plants without chemicals, using his work on the Kaipatiki Project as an example. Stopping the spread of weeds by guiding the community on removal methods has greatly improved weed invasion of the Waitakere Forest.


With a more local perspective on the Kaimai Forest, Toni Twyford and Gavin Smith from the Department of Conservation spoke of the cultural significance of the Kaimai Kauri and ways we can protect the trees from Kauri Dieback.

To round things up, Dr Niki Harre from The University of Auckland gave an interactive presentation on her research into the infinite game of sustainability. Her take home message was, "If we create a tale of joy we invite people to participate in activities that benefit us all. A tale of joy involves accessing your own deepest values and being shown that these are shared."

The Regional Environment Network was set up by Envirohub, with funding from Bay of Plenty Regional Council to support greater collaboration, knowledge sharing and networking opportunities within the wider community and across different environmental groups and organisations.

Now into its sixth year, the Regional Environment Network Hui had been on tour across the Bay of Plenty with different speakers at each event. The theme this year is Connections: Connections in nature, connections with nature and connections with each other. The purposes of the hui are for local environmental groups to be able to share and learn new tools to support their projects.