Conservation Symposium a huge success
Numbers were much greater than expected and the whole event was a huge success.The West Coast Penguin Trust presented the "Community Conservation Symposium - How, what and why for conservation on the West Coast" on 14-15 June 2018. With 119 participants for the conference day and 65 joining field trips on day two, numbers were much greater than expected and the whole event was a huge success. Our aim was to support community conservation groups and projects in the region by bringing expert speakers to them and facilitating networking with each other and with potential advisors and partners. This was achieved through a very professional and well received event, enabled by a $10k grant from the Lottery Environment & Heritage Fund, plus generous grants, donations and support from DOC and the Sargood Bequest. The first day was a conference with a variety of experienced speakers and held at the Shantytown conference venue near Greymouth; the second day comprised three field trips to a variety of community conservation projects. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. 26 community conservation organisations and three schools were represented as well as over 20 individuals interested in community conservation, plus a variety of other organisations including biodiversity and community rangers from the Department of Conservation and key members of Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae. DOC also provided key note speakers and Ngati Waewae graced the event with a formal welcome and farewell. In addition, we were fortunate to have excellent speakers from Forest & Bird, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, the local Department of Internal Affairs office and local community conservation organisations. The field trips were led and hosted by several community groups. Although it was targeted at the community on the West Coast, we were pleased to welcome several participants from as far afield as Dunedin and Hawkes Bay. Our own Trust was fortunate to meet a post graduate student interested in our work and has been able to develop a Masters project for her in 2019, benefiting both the student and our blue penguin conservation project. Our Education Ranger was able to strengthen or create relationships with the three schools that were represented and we have heard similar stories from other groups. We believe the profile of community conservation in the region has been raised as a result of the symposium. The extent of community conservation in the region is broader and deeper than perhaps had been realised until connected through this event. Several groups funded a couple of their members to attend and they will have returned to their groups with new knowledge and new contacts. Information was provided by experts and those with vast experience in conservation and was pitched to be of value no matter the individual's level of knowledge or experience. The symposium had two areas of focus - ecology and community conservation management. Both areas were of value to those present, the first covering an overview of ecology on the coast and, through each speaker, developing an understanding of the values, the issues, and practical conservation management including predator control and restoration. Management of trusts was included to support those working and volunteering in community conservation trusts, for example fundraising, governance and managing volunteers, but just as importantly, to demonstrate the range of issues and challenges that have to be addressed by groups like ours to organisations like DOC, who can be unaware of the extent of varied demands on charitable trusts. The two high schools that brought students and a primary school teacher were inspired by the event, valuing the knowledge gained and an insight into conservation in the region. Predator control is a major focus in New Zealand at present, and DOC valued and made the most of the opportunity to share updates, plans and practical skills with the participants while those already involved in trapping projects or keen to be, valued the opportunity to ask questions, connect to experts and experience the various traps available. Our reason for presenting this event was to support those involved or potentially involved in community conservation in our region to gain a greater understanding of the natural heritage and environment and therefore how their area or project fits into the wider picture. They also learned about the threats and how they can be addressed including practical skills, they gained knowledge and skills in those areas of community trust work behind the scenes and rarely supported including governance, fundraising, volunteer management and financial reporting. In addition, networking opportunities were emphasised, encouraged and supported - and taken and valued. The field trips added an understanding of local projects and enabled more discussion and networking among participants, with many useful contacts being made and developed. As a result, we are confident that conservation outcomes will be improved, threats will be better managed, habitat will be restored and protected and community conservation groups will be stronger and better managed. We conducted a survey of participants after the event and 41 responded. We were supported in this by Malatest International, who aim to survey conference attendees to assess the economic value to New Zealand. We were pleased to note that local participants spent on average $164 per person, and those from beyond the west coast spent an average of $493 per person. However, our focus of the survey was to find out whether the event had been of use and the feedback was hugely reassuring in this regard Symposium dinner at Shantytown June 2018. For values including speakers, value for money, the knowledge or skills gained, the networking opportunity and the event overall, average ratings were between 4.2 and 4.7, where 1 is very poor and 5 is very good. Here are some of the comments in response to 'what did you like most about the conference?': "Networking opportunities. Meeting the other guest speakers and gleaning knowledge from their presentations", "Learning about the ecology of west coast and about pest control", "great speakers, well prepared, good visuals, easy to hear, great messages", "everybody getting an educated view on where community conservation fits into the bigger picture", "Learning & being with like minded people", "Was a great symposium, particularly the field trips to see local conservation groups in action," "The symposium was unique in bringing experts in conservation from afar to less than 100km from my home, so it was a unique opportunity", "Well organised & informative symposium. Very happy I attended", "A well organized, balanced and professional event with good speakers and field trips (Great turnout!)", "Excellent symposium for networking. Informative for new groups", "Excellent assortment of speakers", "The inspiration factor that plenty of people are dedicated to conservation and whole communities are involved". The Trust would like to repeat its gratitude to funders: Lottery, DOC and Sargood Bequest, say a huge and heartfelt thank you to the wonderful speakers and field trip leaders who put so much time into preparation and being there, add an enormous thank you to those who attended, taking time to support both our event and their own interest and involvement in community conservation and last but of course not least, a massive thank you to the team of volunteers who made the event a success on the day. 2018-06-11 Community Conservation Symposium 14-15 June 2018 Programme
The Great Annual Blue Penguin Count is coming!
The Great Annual Blue Penguin Count, 10-15 October this year, is fun, hugely useful and a great way to get involved!The Great Annual Blue Penguin Count, 10-15 October this year, is fun, hugely useful and a great way to get involved! What could be better than an early morning walk on the beach on a glorious West Coast day! Combine that with discovering whether penguins are using your beach and adding valuable information for the Trust and you're onto a winner! We are encouraging the use of the iNaturalist app, as it's easy, fun and it makes life a whole lot easier for us! Once you've created a logon and got the hang of it, it really is easy. I have to admit it took me a little while, and we learned how to make it easier after the Annual Count last year, so we've ironed out some challenges and we'd love you to take part! All the information you need to get involved is on our webpage here: http://www.bluepenguin.org.nz/blue-penguin-count/ We plan to be out on the beach close to Hokitika and you'd be welcome to join us - more details to follow soon.
August 30, 2018
We are celebrating with The Tawaki Project the release of a research paper reporting the marathon swims made by Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki) after raising chicks and before returning to moult.
Tawaki – marathon penguins
We are celebrating with The Tawaki Project the release of a research paper reporting the marathon swims made by Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki) after raising chicks and before returning to moult.The tawaki is one of the least studied and rarest penguin species in the world. 17 tawaki were tracked over 8-10 weeks and they travelled up to 2,500km from their breeding colony, some travelling up to 7000 km in total. This is an extraordinary feat bearing in mind that penguins generally use this time to recover and put on weight after rearing chicks and before the moult, when they can lose up to half of their body weight. The project is led by Dr Thomas Mattern, and our own Trustee and Tawaki Ranger, Robin Long, was part of his team and a co-author on the paper.
Dr Mattern said: “One would think that the birds try to conserve as much energy on this trip as possible. But what we found is, simply put, crazy.”Study co-author Dr Klemens Pütz, of the Antarctic Research Trust, said it was an incredible achievement for a flightless seabird. “The question is why the penguins leave on such an epic journey, at a time when the ocean productivity along their coastal breeding sites reaches its peak. There should be more than enough food for them just on their doorstep,” Dr Pütz said. The authors believe tawaki make their trek because of instinct rather than necessity. You can read more here:
June 7, 2018
West Coast Penguin Trust Ranger, Lucy Waller, makes the case for penguins, loving them, conserving them and presenting them to children as a gateway to more conservation conversations.
Penguins are advocates for conservation
West Coast Penguin Trust Ranger, Lucy Waller, makes the case for penguins, loving them, conserving them and presenting them to children as a gateway to more conservation conversations.West Coast Penguin Trust Ranger, Lucy Waller, makes the case for penguins, loving them, conserving them and presenting them to children as a gateway to more conservation conversations. Lucy explains that kids love penguins - penguins are the perfect advocate to present an environmental/conservation message to all ages. From one child, to a class of children, a school and from there to parents and their community, whole community shifts can happen and with that genuine environmental change. The local connection to nature makes conservation real and actions to make a difference more manageable. Over the past year or so, Lucy has worked with St Patrick's School in Greymouth as they have followed the Trust's education resource, learned about local penguins and started taking actions to help them. Read Lucy's article for a UK environmental education journal here: Environmental Education journal article May 2018
A busy year for the Trust
Here's our Annual Report to update supporters and sponsors about all the work we do, from penguins to petrels and trapping to tamariki.The Trust produces an Annual Report to update supporters and sponsors about all the work we do. From penguins to petrels and trapping to tamariki, in the year to 31st March 2018 we have been busy! Our projects include studies to better understand the ecology of and threats to blue penguins, Fiordland crested penguins and Westland petrels, and we undertake predator control for seabirds. We also have a wide ranging awareness and outreach project, including some excellent education work with an increasing number of schools. Read our annual report here: West Coast Penguin Trust - Annual Report 2018