Bay Conservation Alliance is officially turning one year old this month, and the organisation has received the best birthday present it could have hoped for.
TECT this week approved $300,000 of funding over two years, across eight community conservation groups including Bay Conservation Alliance (BCA).
The umbrella organisation was set up to support community-led environmental restoration and nature conservation initiatives in the Bay of Plenty.
BCA helps groups with funding, administration, advocacy, promotions, volunteer co-ordination, memberships and social media, and other functions.
"A key role for us is to minimise the administration load on our member groups and this is a fantastic example of a win-win situation," chief executive Michelle Elborn said of the TECT funding.
She said this was the first time BCA had facilitated a combined application to TECT on behalf of its member groups.
The organisation was founded in 2017 but was only formally launched in September last year, after undertaking strategic planning and developing a funding and communications plan.
It launched with six members: the Aongatete Forest Project, Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society, Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust, Uretara Estuary Managers, Te Whakakaha Trust and Friends of the Blade.
One year on it has 11 members, with the Western Bay Wildlife Trust, Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre Trust, Arboriculture Land and Forest Associates' Trust, Aongatete Outdoor Education Centre and Kaharoa Kōkako Trust coming on board.
Elborn said as well as reducing the administration load on member groups, BCA provides a stronger collective voice for nature and conservation in the region.
Government ministers and organisations have started using BCA as a go-to contact point, she said.
Elborn said in its first year, BCA has developed a financial management support service, moved some of its members to the Xero accounting platform, created a new nature education programme at two sites for local schools, and formed a policy manual that covers everything from volunteer management to health and safety.
The power of pooling resources is no more evident than with the TECT funding success.
Last year only two BCA members applied to TECT. This year, seven of the community conservation groups will receive funding.
"What a wonderful win for nature and very fitting to fall in Conservation Week," Elborn said.
"When it comes to environmental protection there is a known saying – 'Think global, act local'. If every local area focuses on issues like enhancing biodiversity, then collectively we will have a massive impact globally."
TECT general manager Wayne Werder said the BCA funding application pulled together the various needs of individual groups and was a "fantastic demonstration of leadership".
"Having a leadership body like Bay Conservation Alliance working with its member groups to facilitate funding towards all their individual initiatives is terrific, and provides another level of confidence for TECT that our funds will be well used and get to where they are most needed," he said.
"This is a great way for us to provide targeted funding through one channel."
David Peters from the Aongatete Forest Project, one of the groups that will benefit from the funding, said the grant from TECT would allow their volunteers to carry on with their important work in native forest in the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park, between Tauranga and Katikati.
"BCA's leadership in applying for the grant added real value to our membership of them."