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Rare and endangered birds are already returning to the now pest-free islands of Ipipiri (eastern Bay of Islands).

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At the start of 2009, I knew next to nothing about office greening. Almost 12 months on, as part of DOC’s sustainability team, it’s surprising what I’ve learnt.

I believe that sustainability can, and should, reach into every aspect of DOC’s business. And gradually, sometimes without staff even being aware that it is happening, DOC’s turning a darker shade of green. This departmental greening reaches from the paper we use everyday (now 80% recycled) to the lighting levels in our workplaces; includes foodscraps from people’s lunches ending up fattening the staff pig  or in the office wormfarm, and compostable picnic plates made from potato chip waste being used at community events.

But we are not stopping there. DOC looks after many islands and remote bits of New Zealand. Up until recently power to these places came courtesy of a diesel generator. These noisy, smelly, expensive-to-run machines are now thankfully part of DOC’s past. Solar panels and wind generators are providing silent sustainable power from as far south as Stewart Island to Mimiwhangata in the mid-North.

Powered by the sun – ranger’s house at Mimiwhangata. Photo by Righthouse

Chatham Islanders can now say “Goodbye” to noisy expensive diesel generators and “Hello” to silent sustainable solar power. Photo by Righthouse.

How have we managed to move so far so fast? Sustainability Champions in every DOC office throughout the country are part of the secret. Local folk acting sustainably locally. And their reward? Feeling they are making a difference, acknowledgement and prizes through our bi-annual DOC sustainability awards and the occasional Tradeaid chocolate bar!

But what about the office bike – surely this blog title isn’t serious? Well, yes, it is. Office bicycles are being ridden throughout the country – in Auckland allowing staff to commute between offices and out in rural areas for track inspections.

So, next time you see a DOC ranger on a bike, cheer him or her on. They’re doing their little bit to reduce carbon emissions and keeping fit at the same time – not a bad combo really!

Helen Ough Dealy

Ipipiri- the eastern Bay of Islands

Ipipiri - the eastern Bay of Islands

Project Island Song is on its way! Now that all the stoats and rats have gone from the eastern Bay’s islands, the Guardians of the Bay of Islands, a local community group, can get on with the job of planting trees and bringing back the birds.

After a day's hard work creating the Project Island Song Centre

After a day's hard work creating the Project Island Song Centre

Here I am (middle left) with Guardians of the Bay of Islands volunteers and families in front of the newly revamped Project Island Song Centre, in Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island.

Lots of hard work was done that weekend bringing light back to a cold grey building. The launch of the centre is today – just ahead of Conservation Week. Over a hundred people including kids from three local schools, kaumatua and kuia from the local community as well as DOC and ExploreNZ staff and others passionate about restoring the islands, will be helping to celebrate this occasion.

The Centre, staffed by Guardians volunteers, will be opening at Labour Weekend. So  come and visit! But before you leave the mainland, you can do your bit to keep these islands pest-free – please stop, check your gear for pests (rats, mice, stoats, ants, weed seeds) and then go!

Want to know more about Project Island Song? Go to: