Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Westport hosts environmental restoration hui

Buller District Council and Ngāti Waewae has welcomed Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance (the Alliance) members from Te Tauihu / the Top of the South to Westport for a strategic environmental restoration planning hui.

The three-day hui, which winds up tomorrow, will be facilitated by Alliance partner and global conservation organisation, The Nature Conservancy, to develop investment-ready environmental proposals across Buller and the top of the South, in line with the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Strategy.

The Alliance was established in 2017, to support an integrated approach to helping nature and people thrive across Te Tauihu / the Top of the South and northern Buller. Alliance members include eight iwi and five councils across Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough and Buller, and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Erik van Eyndhoven, The Nature Conservancy Associate Director of Conservation, New Zealand programme, says: “The Nature Conservancy is honoured to support the Alliance to achieve the vision set out in its strategy, released in 2019. The Alliance is in a good position to build on a solid foundation of successful projects and partner relationships.”

“By exploring synergies between projects and opportunities to scale-up, we hope to identify new areas for investment which have the potential to deliver the greatest impacts for our environment and our communities across whole landscapes and seascapes,” he said.

Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance co-chair, Martin Rodd, says: “We are thrilled to be able to bring together the collective expertise of our iwi, council and DOC members to establish our operational plan to optimise investment into both our natural environment and the communities that live within it.

“Collectively we can work at the scale required to hugely improve the future prospects for both the terrestrial and marine environments. It’s how we need to work and it’s exciting to see it coming together.”

Buller District Council and West Coast Regional Council have worked with the Alliance for the past five years – a collaboration which has helped Buller District secure more than $1.4 million of funding towards the creation of jobs (six FTE) and a landscape-scale weed control programme in the district.

“At the hui we will develop investment ready plans that will turn the Alliance’s strategy into reality – creating jobs and prosperous communities, preparing us for a lower emissions future, and achieving vital outcomes for our natural environment across the Buller district and the top of the South Island,” says Buller District Council’s Mayor, Jamie Cleine.

Key West Coast stakeholders, including Bathurst Resources, Tai Poutini Polytechnic, MBC Environmental and Development West Coast, have joined the hui. The Nature Conservancy will contribute an international perspective, as well as its expertise in affecting change by bringing together real-world solutions, sustainable financing and collaborative partnerships to realise the restoration goals, Council said in a statement.

In March, the Buller District Council and Tai Poutini Polytechnic announced a partnership that will work with conservation employers to develop a conservation training learning and employment opportunities hub.

Council says a flagship restoration project will be established to engage learners, as well as potential sponsors and funders, and demonstrate conservation and restoration mahi in tangible ways.

Tai Poutini Polytechnic Chief Executive, Alex Cabrera says: “It is a great opportunity to meet our partners and key West Coast stakeholders this week. This hui aligns with the hub’s intention to deliver training and education that is designed to meet the needs of the community and its local employers to prepare the Buller District for a future with growing conservation and biodiversity restoration sector activity.”

“There are a number of other initiatives in the pipeline that will see activities across the West Coast region. The reform of education in New Zealand is creating collaboration opportunities and reducing barriers to accessing training. I am encouraged by the work that has been done to pursue better education opportunities for our akonga.”

During its 2021-2031 Long Term Plan community consultation process, Mayor Cleine says the community confirmed the importance of addressing climate change and sustainability.

“The outcomes of this hui will enable us in partnership with the Alliance and The Nature Conservancy to embed a more prosperous and resilient local future, identifying opportunities within Buller to progress solutions that benefit both people and nature,” he said.

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