Point Bush Ecosanctuary Trustees, Gary and Ann Dennison recently attended the annual 3 day Sanctuaries of New Zealand (SONZI) Conference held in Nelson at the Beachside Conference Event Centre, Tahunanui 16th - 18th August 2022. And YES, it was during the week of Red Alert Wet Weather warning that resulted in massive flooding and mud slips in the Nelson and Marlborough regions. Whilst the Beachside Centre was fortunately not impacted, there were traumatising events happening close by.
This was our second SONZI attendance, with the first being held in the North Island at Raetihi near Mount Ruapehu last August. This year, we were much more aware of what to expect and anticipate. With over 100 registered attendees; representing many of the fenced and unfenced sanctuaries around New Zealand, we settled in for an intense two days of Science and Pest/Conservation Talks and Presentations by a number of invited Guest Speakers from Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, Massey University, DOC, Cawthron Institute, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Regional Councils, Predator Free 2050, Forest & Bird and others.
Topics were very diverse and interesting ranging from water e-DNA research techniques and application (Environment DNA), value of establishing effective data- base control related to pest predator control/tracking index related to native bird and fauna, the (damaging) effects of global night light pollution, realistic aims of NZ Predator Free 2050, surveillance and latest in self-reporting IT traps through (Wifi).
Day 3 should have been a Field Day trip with a visit to a nearby sanctuary. However, by day 3 the impact of the weather bomb was such that those who could remain (and not have to find alternative routes home), settled in for an improvised conference day with many signing up for a “Soap Box” 10 minute presentation on their particular ecosanctuary projects. We were able to present an up-date on the Point Bush Ecosanctuary; being a year since the 4.5 Klm of predator fencing was established (June 2021) with commencement of Bennett wallaby control and pest predator trapping monitoring with authorised volunteers. The menace of the Bennett Wallaby and our eradication project in conjunction with Environment Canterbury was highlighted. We were able to report that 325 wallabies have now been culled within the fenced Ecosanctuary over the past year. So, with a much reduced number of wallaby now evident within the Ecosanctuary, the previous tell tale signs of well worn wallaby tracks are now becoming overgrown and disappearing plus native tree regeneration is more apparent - evidence that wallaby numbers are being reduced successfully.
These annual SONZI sessions are super amazing in that they provide an opportunity (or rather immersion) into so many facets of nation-wide conservation thinking and techniques with face to face discussions with those involved in the challenges of conservation and preservation of our native flora and fauna through managed sanctuaries. We are drafting a list of “Take Out” messages from the conference, including the benefits of community Urban Trapping engagement…promoting the “Halo” beneficial effect of community trapping outside of the Ecosanctuary.
We welcome any interested volunteers to make contact with us and visit the Ecosanctuary; whether interested in either trapping/tracking/planting or general support for the Point Bush Ecosanctuary. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann and Gary Dennison PBERT Trustees