By Julie Kidd, Strategic Partnerships Advisor
When Auckland’s Remuera Golf Course went for the international Golf Environmental Organisation certification in 2015, head greenkeeper Spencer Cooper immediately got on the line to DOC in Auckland. Part of the accreditation required participation in a community driven conservation project and his request fell into my very receptive ears.
As a (poor) golfer, I was delighted to hear Spencer’s team was so committed to supporting great environmental and conservation practices. Remuera went on to achieve the GEO certification, the first golf course in New Zealand, joining just 150 other world-class courses.
Skip forward to November 2018 and here we are, at Remuera Golf Course, with some of Auckland’s top head greenkeepers attending DOC’s inaugural PF 2050 Trapping Workshop for Golf Courses.
Why target golf courses?
- There are 390 golf courses throughout the country.
- On average, there are more than 90 species of plants on the course, a third of which are native.
- Urban centres have a large number of courses eg: Wellington has 27 clubs and Auckland has 19 clubs, and, districts almost double that – Canterbury District has 38 and Otago sports a healthy 46.
- Golf is the largest club-based sport in the country with more than 500,000 people playing regularly. This gives DOC an enormous potential audience which we may not have otherwise got to.
For many people, the golf course is at the epicentre of the community, and, as we know, successful pest-control programmes are run from the community.
By working with course superintendents, we can work far more efficiently by ‘training the trainers’, who will in turn work with their own greenkeepers, course volunteers, club members as well as property owners that back on to the courses. Ideally, this will impact the community at large and organically grow into larger backyard trapping projects. A classic ‘ripple effect’.
To do this we will engage with the nine hubs of Golf Environmental Superintendent nationally – all of which run regular training workshops where we can include the trapping workshop. They will be able to exponentially grow the number of courses with an efficient trapping programme much faster than we can alone.
Des Topp, Chair of the New Zealand Golf Industry Association is an enthusiastic supporter of pushing the Trapping Workshop though the Superintendent’s hubs. He says, “Why wouldn’t we aim to be the first country in the world to have all of our golf courses running pest-control programmes? It is entirely possible and working with DOC and the other agencies, we will get there. We really want to be part of the solution.”
Spencer adds, “The other part of getting rid of pests is initiating a native tree planting programme. We want to have a much higher percentage of native species planted as we know our native birds need natives to feed off. It is part of our overall plan. Pests first, then planting.”
Barbara Bercic, Communications and Engagement Manager for DOC’s PF2050 team adds “Everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the predator free goal. Collaboration with community is key to New Zealand achieving it. I love the aspiration of the Superintendent Greenkeepers from the courses throughout NZ and NZ Golf’s support and commitment. It’s a perfect fit – especially as urban developers start eyeing up these large urban green spaces for housing developments. Converting golf clubs into biodiversity oases that bring nature closer to urban dwellers and showing them what pest control and native planting can achieve, is a stroke of genius.”
The workshop and the work with the golf clubs has been a collaborative effort between Auckland Partnerships, Operations and the Predator Free team in DOC. Working better by working together.