By Robyn Orchard, Communications Advisor
Taupo’s Summerset Retirement Village staff recently helped DOC collect seeds for a 50 year Landcare Research project.
The small group joined DOC staff and local Mataroa community members at Paengaroa Scenic Reserve just north of Taihape to collect a mixture of seeds which will be used by Landcare Research to analyse climate change, predict future seed masts and to improve predator control in the area.
Having community groups volunteer on such projects helps them to realise the kind of work DOC is involved in, makes people aware of the wide range of plants found in their local area and also helps to build relationships with the community.
The Summerset staff really enjoyed their day out in the field, saying it was nice to get away from the office paperwork.
Staff members said it was the only work day where not a single complaint was heard and team member Jim said he got more exercise collecting seeds than when playing 18 holes of golf.
To show their appreciation, the Summerset group put on a barbeque for DOC staff and community volunteers at the end of the day.
The Paengaroa seed project
The Paengaroa seed project is one of a number of seed collection/monitoring projects where community volunteer groups are helping out.
Training volunteers pays off in the long run with many going on to do other conservation work in their communities. It’s not about community volunteers doing DOC’s job. It’s about getting people involved in community conservation and learning about the work involved in conservation.
Paengaroa is a special place for native plants with a remarkable concentration of rare species. It has been described as a botanical treasure trove.
Some of the nationally rare plants found at Paengaroa include Coprosma obconica, which only found at one other North Island site and a few South Island sites.
Other rare plants found at Paengaroa include the heart leaved kohuhu, two species of dwarf mistletoe and a larger mistletoe that lives on maire and lemonwood.
Paengaroa is also home to the largest population of Gardner’s tree daisy, New Zealand’s third rarest tree.
The unique collection of plants at Paengaroa is a result of the climate and geology. The area floods and is often waterlogged, yet also suffers droughts and can have frosts any day of the year.
In 1996 Paengaroa was recognised for its rare plants and became a mainland island. Today, weed and pest control are main priorities for management of this special reserve.
The Mataroa community is invaluable for its local knowledge of the area. Many have contributed by removing invasive weeds from their properties as well as choosing not to grow exotic plants with bird-dispersed seeds.
The community also has a role to play in the control of cats and are the first to know if a fence needs fixing, if sheep or cattle are in the reserve, or rubbish is becoming a problem.
Volunteers play a vital role in conservation in New Zealand, whether they’re working with DOC or other community conservation groups.
Volunteer for conservation today!