Easy ways to get involved in conservation moving forward

Department of Conservation —  20/09/2019

Now that we’re at the pointy end of Conservation Week 2019, your involvement and dedication to conservation doesn’t have to end here. Conservation is a year-round activity – and we’ve come up with some fun, family-friendly ideas that you can do to protect nature.

Every year, thousands of New Zealanders get involved in conservation activities at home or attend events in their local communities.

It’s an exciting week for school children, conservationists and community groups, yet it doesn’t stop come Sunday. With more than 4,000 species threatened or at risk, nature needs us to act now.

Creating change can be big or small, when we pull together, we can make a big difference.

Planting native trees. Photo: DOC & Conservation Volunteers New Zealand

Backyard Projects: Find out what’s lurking in your backyard

You can be part of the conservation effort from your own backyard. We’ve created the activities with children in mind, to ensure our next generation can be easily connected to conservation and nature – during Conservation Week and all year round.

Tracking Tunnel: Track backyard introduced predators

Do you know what creatures really live in your garden?

Create your very own tracking tunnel to reveal footprints of the creatures that scamper through. You might be surprised to know what really lives in your garden.

Check your tunnel each morning for marks and in less than a week, you should have a good idea of what’s roamining around – make sure to keep your bait topped up for best results.

Tracking Tunnel Activity

Protect native insects in your Wētā Motel

As wētā only come out at night, give them a place to rest up during the day. Building your own wētā motel requires limited materials: a small log, a drill, a hammer, some nails, a saw and your own fashioned ‘roof’ (corrugated iron, corflute or anything you have around home to keep the water out!).

In five steps, you’ll have a place in your backyard for wētā to be protected against predators such as rats, cats and birds, with a dry place for them to snooze the day away.

Wētā Motel Activity

Materials for creating a chew card.

Chew Cards: Find out who lives in your garden

Chew cards are a super simple and fun tool to find out which pests are hiding in your backyard. Animals will make unique marks on the chew card that can help you identify what creature made them.

For a quick guide for identifying marks on your chew cards:

  • Nibbles on one side only = mice
  • Bites through both sides = rats
  • Punctures = cats, stoats, ferrets or weasels
  • Crushed/seagull shaped dents = possums

Chew Cards Activity

Lizards prefer small, sheltered spaces to stay out of harm’s way. Photo: Sabine Bernert

Lizard-Friendly Garden: Attract geckos or skinks to your area

In New Zealand, we have 110 species of lizard and none of them are found anywhere else in the world.

Lizards love to hide in small spaces, such as grasses and plants with branches, and they need a safe shelter to thrive. By building a special habitat in your garden for lizards you give them shelter from their biggest threats: predation and habitat destruction.

Lizard Garden Activity

Planting native trees. Photo: Sustainable Coastlines

Get out in nature: Tree planting, walks and volunteering

Plant a native tree

It’s important for us to plant native trees as they support all sorts of wildlife and are vital to a healthy ecosystem. New Zealand is lucky to have very unique flora – with 80% of our trees, ferns and flowing plants endemic, which means that they’re only found here.

Plants do our environment a world of good, where they act as shelter and food sources for our wildlife, keep our waterways clean and offset global carbon emissions.

For more information on planting native trees, head to the DOC website for more tips.

Photo: Fraser Clements

Dust off your tramping boots

Depending on the level of the hike, there’s a few things to consider when experiencing a nature walk. For short walks (under 3 hours), be prepared for changing weather conditions and pack the essentials. For a day hike (under 8 hours), you’ll need to pack more water, a bag for your rubbish, a full lunch plus snacks, and any emergency equipment.

Step One: Decide on the short walk or day hike for you.

Step Two: Check the weather forecast and if your mobile phone will have coverage in the area.

Step Three: Tell someone that you’re going, where and when you’ll be back.

Step Four: Make sure you Visit the Kiwi way – respect any wildlife you may run into and take all your waste with you.

Heading out in nature is a great way to improve your wellbeing. Taking time to be immersed in New Zealand’s special landscape offers many opportunities to learn more about nature, including the native trees and bird calls of taonga.

Photo: Sustainable Coastlines

Volunteer in the outdoors

Love the outdoors and interested in your impact on the environment? Volunteer with Conservation Volunteers New Zealand – join students, professionals, international visitors, retirees – no prior skills and experience is required.

When you participate in one of their projects, you may be doing one (or more) of the following: tree planting, walking trail construction, wildlife surveys, seed collection, weed control, conservation fencing and heritage restoration.

Volunteering is free and available every week of the year. Learn more about one-day volunteer projects and make a difference to our natural habitat.

Now that Conservation Week has come to an end – conservation doesn’t end here.

You can participate in your everyday actions and by involving yourself and your family in conservation activities. Head to the DOC website for more info on conservation and our native flora and fauna.