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Halting Bay’s biodiversity decline critical

Bruce Clarkson speaks to the crowd at the Biodiversity HB launch

More than 200 people have stepped up to stop any further loss of the critically endangered biodiversity of Hawke’s Bay.

At the launch of an action plan at the Havelock North Function Centre tonight (Tuesday, May 22), these individuals stood together and said they would work collaboratively to protect and enhance the region’s remaining indigenous ecosystems.

Many of those in attendance hailed from 60 different regional environmental groups, local authorities, educational institutions and government agencies – each already doing fantastic work in this area.   But they saw the need to work together and many signed up to be Biodiversity Guardians.

The University of Waikato’s (UoW) Environment Research Institute (ERI) took the opportunity to sign up as the first corporate sponsor of the Biodiversity Guardians.

UoW Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Bruce Clarkson, said this signing signals the University’s commitment to working with the community to make a difference on the ground.

“To achieve what this action plan sets out, we have to move beyond revegetation in our urban centres such as Napier and Hastings and Hamilton where I am from. 

“We must look at restoration of our biodiversity and the reconstruction of indigenous ecosystems,” he says.

Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay Foundation Chairman, Charles Daugherty, says that without determined intervention such as this, the loss of biodiversity will continue to get worse.

With the region’s unique wetland environments almost extinct and urban indigenous biodiversity is at an all-time low, dozens of species that once occupied Hawke’s Bay no longer live here, some extinct forever.

“Our forests are largely silent - many of the birds are gone. All indigenous ecological communities have been greatly reduced in scale and, in consequence.

“The natural processes that purify our water, control floods, conserve our soils, and even help to regulate our climate have been adversely affected,” says Charles Daugherty.

Today, the loss of biodiversity now challenges nature’s ability to provide the essentials of human life — food, clean water, productive and stable soils that support agriculture.

The good news is that collaboratively, the indigenous ecosystems of the region can be saved.

The Hawke’s Bay Biodiversity Strategy 2015-2050 identified several areas that, if achieved, can return indigenous biodiversity and environmental health to our region.

The first step is the implementation of the three-year action plan overseen by the Biodiversity Guardians board and the Biodiversity Foundation, a charitable trust that will manage the funding.

Guardian Chair and Department of Conservation Operations Manager, Connie Norgate, says through this plan the Guardians are committed to working together to build a healthy and functioning indigenous biodiversity in the region.

"Many groups and individuals in Hawke’s Bay are collaborating to take action to preserve our indigenous biodiversity. We need to increase our effort and turn the tide,” she says.

Connie Norgate says now the action plan has begun, the Guardians will work to ensure its sustainability over the next three years.

“This will be critical and requires the support of our partners, stakeholders, iwi and community,” she says.

More information about the Hawke’s Bay Biodiversity Action Plan or to become a Guardian.

20 June 2018

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