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Managing DOC land… How hard can it be?

Well, it’s certainly easier if people tell us what they think. If you’ve got a treasured family campsite, or favourite fishing spot you’d like kept unspoilt – or if you’ve got a gripe about the way wildlife or one of your special places is being managed, we’d like to hear about it.

4WD trip in Oteake Conservation Park. Photo: C Babirat.

4WD - a popular form of recreation on DOC land

 
In Otago and Southland, DOC is seeking comment on what you value (or don’t value) on conservation land by way of a Google Maps mashup. This is an early-bird chance to have input into DOC’s Conservation Management Strategies (more formal consultation will take place later in the year).
Hoiho and chicks. Photo: C Pullar.

Hoiho - an iconic southern seabird - and chicks

It takes about 20 minutes – you can stick electronic pins with comments on a map, showing what you value in different locations and how you’d like it to be managed. There’s also a short survey to complement this and to tell us a wee bit about you.
Stewart Town, Bannockburn Sluicings, Central Otago. Photo: A Lonie.

Stewart Town, Bannockburn Sluicings - one of my own favourite spots

DOC is looking for feedback in other regions too, by different means –  find out how in the Consultations section of the DOC website. But for the Deep South:
Have your say by adding comments to the Google map.

The Google map lets you mark and comment on places you value

Once you’ve completed the survey you’ll have the option of later receiving the survey results, and being kept up-to-date with DOC’s conservation management plans. And finally, we’d also love to hear from your family and friends on what’s important to them – please pass it on!
Blue Lake, St Bathans. Photo: R Suisted.

Summer family fun at Blue Lake, St Bathans

So we went in and nailed some rats and goats – but how many, where, and what difference did it make anyway?

Good information on how much effort goes in – and on what results come out – is vital to running safe, effective, value-for-money pest control operations.

As an information management officer/kaitiaki for DOC, one of my jobs is to help the guys and gals running the field operations by mapping all their hard won info.

As they say, a picture tells 1000 words, and that’s where GIS (Geographic Information Systems) comes in. Recently I’ve been involved in 1080 aerial rat control operations in both the Catlins and Dart Valley forests, home to the endangered mōhua/yellowhead.

Downloading helicopter flight logs in the incident tent. Photo: Sue Scott.

Downloading helicopter flight logs in the incident tent. Photo: Sue Scott.

 Using GIS, combined with helicopter flight logging systems, we can build up a real-time picture of how the bait is being spread. This is important because we need to make sure that A. bait doesn’t get dropped outside the area we have consent for (i.e. it’s safe), and B. the whole area is covered evenly with no gaps (effective and value-for-money).

Discussing the mapped bait coverage mid-operation. Photo: Andrew Lonie.

Discussing the mapped bait coverage mid-operation. Photo: Andrew Lonie.

The beauty of downloading and mapping bait coverage on the day is that we can send pilots back out to fill in any holes on the spot – saving all the hassle and cost of rerunning the operation. It also gives us the ability to immediately deploy a clean-up crew to sensitive areas if boundaries have been compromised, reducing the risk to non-targets and the public.

Space for computer gear can be limited! Photo: Andrew Lonie.

Space for computer gear can be limited! Photo: Andrew Lonie.

Measuring predator abundance before and after – using ink cards that record paw traffic through ‘tracking tunnels’ – then gives us a measure of the poison’s effect on the rat population.

Helicopter GPS (Global Positioning System) logging is also important in other animal pest programmes, such as aerial goat control in the Wakatipu region. By using modern GIS mapping to combine GPS kill locations with the time-stamped helicopter flight logs, I can quickly measure how much result we are getting for how much effort in different control blocks. Field staff can then see how results stack up against operational targets, and decide on future priorities.

Analysis of goats killed per unit flying time in the Wakatipu region. Map: Andrew Lonie

Analysis of goats killed per unit flying time in the Wakatipu region. Map: Andrew Lonie