Topic: Bay of Plenty Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Project (July 2015)
The following report was part of the Rena Submission by the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc and Te Puke branch of Forest & Bird (23 September 2015).
Table of Contents
- Bay of Plenty Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Project
- Coastal conservation within the Bay of Plenty
- Bay of Plenty Shorebirds (BOPS) program
- Bay of Plenty Shorebirds objectives
- Bay of Plenty Shorebirds outcomes
- Bay of Plenty Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Project
- BOPCERP Outcomes
The beaches, shorelines and estuarine systems of the Bay of Plenty are important for many reasons.
These include providing habitat for a wide range of native species, e.g. breeding shorebirds; has great cultural significance to tangata whenua and provides communities with a range of recreational opportunities.
Coastal conservation within the Bay of Plenty
Various organisations are involved in coastal conservation within the Bay of Plenty. These include:
Bay of Plenty Shorebirds (BOPS) - A collaborative shorebird protection program involving community volunteers, tangata whenua, Forest & Bird, DOC, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC), Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Tauranga City Council, Whakatane District Council and the Maketu Ongatoro Wetlands Society (MOWS).
The Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society (MOWS) is an award winning community group based in Maketū. MOWS current focus is on the ecological restoration of the lower Kaituna River and Maketu & Little Waihi harbours, with a view to the area being declared a RAMSAR site.
Coast Care Bay of Plenty is a community partnership program supported by the BOPRC, the 3 district councils and DOC. Community members, groups and organisations participate in planting days and the installation of structures, which both protect and help rebuild native dune systems. One benefit of this program is to reduce coastal erosion and reduce / prevent flooding risks associated with tsunami.
Estuary Care Bay of Plenty is a sister program within the Tauranga and Ohiwa harbours. Estuary Care groups hold working bees were they control animal and plant pests, monitor birds, and under resource consent, remove mangroves.
There are also a range of other restoration projects including wetland restoration and coastal pa protection.
Supporting all of these projects are research and education initiatives including Manaaki Taha Moana and programs associated with the Rena Recovery program.
The Bay of Plenty Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Project (BOPCERP) will work with and build on these existing programmes and initiatives. The initial focus of the BOPCERP project will be to grow and support the Bay of Plenty Shorebirds program (BOPS), in particular by increasing the number of volunteers involved in pest control and nest monitoring.
Bay of Plenty Shorebirds (BOPS) program
The Bay provides important breeding and roosting sites for a range of native shorebirds including the northern New Zealand Dotterel, Oystercatchers and White Fronted Terns. New Zealand dotterels, in particular, are a local treasure in the Bay, endemic to NZ and are classified as endangered. There are approximately 2250 birds left in the wild.
The Google map below shows the location of 13 key shorebird locations / breeding areas within the project area.
Bay of Plenty Shorebirds objectives
BOPS objectives include:
- Restoration of the coastal environment at 13 key Bay of Plenty sites through targeted pest control and coastal plantings
- Increasing the number of community volunteers involved in pest control, nest monitoring and other various support roles.
- Implementing an education and public awareness campaign associated with issues such as vehicles and dogs on beaches.
- Deliver an environmental education program for local schools.
The BOPCERP coordinator will manage all aspects of this project including:
- Liaison with all organisations, groups and individuals involved in BOPS.
- Co-ordinating and supporting pest control and nest monitoring at identified shorebird breeding sites in the Bay of Plenty.
- Provide information to beach users, local communities, holiday-makers, visitors, and other relevant parties, on how they can protect breeding shorebirds and chicks.
- Work with community groups and schools to plan and co-ordinate a number of community events such as coastal restoration projects and beach clean-ups.
The coordinator will liaise with the Dotterel Watch Program in the Coromandel and be supported by the Forest & Bird Central North Island Regional Manager, the BOPS steering committee and various Forest & Bird staff in Wellington, e.g. communications staff. The BOPRC and DOC would also support the program in a number of ways.
Signage and interpretation panels will target the visitors to the region. They will be placed at the beaches where the shorebirds nest. The signs will explain what species are nesting on that beach and what beach visitors should do to ensure the birds are not disturbed or harmed.
Bay of Plenty Shorebirds outcomes
BOPS outcomes include:
- Reduce the number of stoats, rats, cats, hedgehogs, possums and mice, through pest control at 12 key sites.
- Increase the fledgling success rate of several shorebird species including New Zealand dotterel, variable oystercatchers, white fronted terns and banded dotterel.
- Enhancing the coastal environment at 12 key Bay of Plenty sites through targeted pest control and coastal plantings.
- Holding three coastal plantings events involving volunteers in the first year of the program.
- Change peoples’ behaviour when on Bay of Plenty beaches through an education and awareness programme.
Bay of Plenty Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Project
Over the initial 3 year project period the BOPCERP will develop a cohesive Bay of Plenty wide ecological restoration strategy and programme that will focus on the native biodiversity while at the same time supporting sustainable economic opportunities. The programme will seek maximum involvement for the community with an emphasis on tangata whenua goals and aspirations. The project will also link with other conservation programs and initiatives being undertaken within river catchment areas.
The project area covers over 200 km of coastline much of which is undeveloped. Some of the coast is in good condition but all of it is suffering from the impact of introduced pest animals and plants. It includes three significant harbours, i.e. Tauranga (220km2), Maketu / Little Waihi and Ohiwa. Ohiwa and Maketū / Little Waihi are both potential RAMSAR sites.
On the biodiversity front, the focus will be in four main areas:
- Shorebird habitat protection and animal pest control.
- Pest plant control and native plant planting
- Reptile surveys and habitat protection.
On the habitat front, the focus will be on three main habitats:
- Shorebird breeding sites
- Dunelands, including back dunes. Working closely with Coast Care
- Harbour Margins, working closely with Estuary Care
- Wetlands – working on restoration and the creation of new wetlands.
The project will develop an ongoing education resource for all of the schools in the Bay, and further develop existing links with the BOP Polytechnic and University of Waikato, Tauranga. This will primarily be by encouraging students to use the coastal environment for research projects. We will work closely with Prof Chris Battershill from the Marine and Coastal Science Institute, University of Waikato.
The project will employ a full time Coordinator. This person will work with the BOPRC in developing Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs).
Currently the BOP Shorebird Programme is developing a BMP covering 18 dotterel nesting sites within the eastern Bay of Plenty from Otamarakau to Waiaua. The BMPs will be the building blocks of the BOPCERP and in due course link together and provide an effective and comprehensive programme for the whole coast, its harbours and river catchments.
The project will develop into an effective program that will strengthen the resilience of the natural coastal and estuarine ecosystems and provide significant educational, economic and social benefits in additional to the restoration of the local ecosystems. Sustainable use of the natural resources will be encouraged. Development of ecotourism is an obvious option as is the development of a local flax industry.
BOPCERP will fulfil six of the nine Strategic Priorities identified in the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy:
- Enhance community participation and learning.
- Becoming smarter biodiversity managers.
- Strengthen partnership with Maori.
- Enhance protected areas and prospects for threatened species.
- Manage the marine environment to sustain biodiversity.
- Identify and manage biosecurity risks to indigenous biodiversity.
BOPCERP outcomes are:
- Increased protection for all native bird species in the area, key species monitored will be the NZ Dotterel, Black-billed Gull and Variable Oystercatcher.
- Improved and coordinated pest plant and animal control.
- Increased participation of community groups and individual volunteers.
- Long term education programme
- Increased involvement of tertiary students in research projects.
- Increased participation of tangata whenua.
- Development of sustainable economic resources associated with the natural environment.
The BOPCERP will work closely with DOC, local government agencies, Te Puke EDG and other development agencies in the Bay, to ensure that the work provides maximum community involvement and participation.