Local award-winning ecotourism operator Rotorua Canopy Tours has been gifted $27,000 worth of trapping kit to restart pest control post-Covid-19 lockdown.
The trapping kit was donated by Wellington-based conservation technology company, Goodnature.
It has been gifted to help kickstart pest control in the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve after Covid-19 put the usual predator control programme on pause.
Canopy Tours general manager Paul Button said the team was excited to get the pest control up and running again following the tricky months due to Covid-19.
Button said his team was forever grateful to Goodnature for stepping in to help when Canopy Tours needed it the most.
"Covid-19 has hit us all in varying ways, so when tourism dropped off so did our ability to maintain our trapping network.
"The Goodnature traps basically run themselves for six months, so Goodnature's donation is a real lifeline to getting the traps in our forest back up and running again.
"We're really thankful that one of our partners has given us a hand when we were really in need."
The Dansey Road Scenic Reserve is Department of Conservation land, leased in a unique partnership to Canopy Tours under an agreement, which sees a portion of all ticket sales go into the Canopy Conservation Fund, managed by Rotorua Canopy Tours, to maintain pest control in the forest. When ticket sales dropped, so did the funds to manage the forest.
Since implementing the trapping programme in 2014, pest numbers have dropped, and native wildlife has returned to the forest including the long-tailed cuckoo (Koekoeā), rare striped skink, and North Island robin (Toutouwai).
The forest canopy has regenerated and is full of healthy native plants, including a rare Pittosporum Kiirki.
"Protecting this forest has been our priority since 2014, and we were really stretching after Covid-19 to keep up that work," Button said.
"We couldn't have restored the forest without Goodnature then, and we needed them now. Our partnership continues to lead to great outcomes in the Dansey Reserve."
Goodnature traps automatically reset themselves after striking a pest animal, resetting up to 24 times over a six-month period before needing to be serviced.
Canopy Tours had recently reset the trap network before the first lockdown, meaning that the traps were live and active in the forest for the first six months following shut down.
Button said having the trap network go 'offline' after six months of uncertainty was of real concern to the team, as the business was unable to prioritise maintaining the vital protection for the flourishing wildlife in the forest following the difficulties of the Covid-19 period.
"Using Goodnature traps is what helped our forest to regenerate in the first place, so we knew that for at least the first six months after lockdown that our forest would be safe until the lure and gas ran out.
"However, as time dragged on, we were cutting it pretty fine and traps were being left unset. Goodnature has really stepped in at the right moment to help us get back to protecting our beautiful forest."
Robbie van Dam, director and co-founder of Goodnature, said he was delighted to support Rotorua Canopy Tours who he believes to be an incredible example of Kiwi tourism and conservation.
"We have been proud to work with Canopy Tours over these last 6 years, collaborating on some of our shared conservation goals.
"Protecting 250 hectares of dense native forest with 700 automatic Goodnature traps is a massive undertaking, achieved through a genius combination of conservation, tourism, and technology."
Van Dam and the Goodnature Board of Directors toured the forest with Rotorua Canopy Tours this week to see the impact the technology has had on the forest first-hand.