Conservation at Rotorua Canopy Tours has been a part of our journey since the beginning back in 2012. We are hugely passionate about our environment and we are working hard to get New Zealand pest free by 2050. We have started this work at Dansey Road Scenic Reserve where our ziplining courses are located. We have seen major differences in the forest already due to our work, but we know there is still so much to do - if you haven't heard how Rotorua Canopy Tours began and how this conservation idea was sparked have a read here!
Check out the timeline of our journey from 2012 – today to read about all three trapping phases we have done over the years and the huge changes we have seen to the native forest and the wildlife.
We caught up with our conservation lead and senior guide Scott, and he gave us an update on what’s been happening in the forest so far this year.
Photo: Scott, our awesome Senior Guide and Conservation expert
I have been heading out into the forest refreshing the possum paste in the possum traps and checking that the traps aren't damaged. The main priority for our conservation programme in 2018 was to reduce the pest counts by maintaining, checking and resetting traps. In the forest we now have 250 hectares covered in trapping lines with 700 Goodnature rat, possum and stoat traps. The Goodnature traps are automatic and humane traps that instantly kill – check out trapping in your own backyard to find out how these traps have made our conservation programme much more manageable and sustainable.
Photo: Rats that were caught in the Goodnature traps
Scientific Monitoring Programme:
Currently it's impossible to tell how many pests we catch because by the time I reach the traps the dead pests have already been eaten by other animals or decayed into the soil.
We will be introducing a scientific monitoring programme to tell us exactly how many pests are left in the forest and learn all about the interesting science behind it. The monitoring will tell us about the different plants that are impacted by possums, find out what's regenerating and what’s not and also discover what plants and trees are getting eaten by the possums or the native birds.
At Rotorua Canopy Tours we are lucky enough to have some very talented staff and we have recently hired two ecologists to be guides. We are super excited to have them on our team and we are hoping that their expertise will help us implement the new programme.
Photo: A group of students learning about the native forest and the conservation work we have done
Changes to the forest since 2012:
Just this year myself and the rest of the team have seen drastic changes to the entire eco-system, due to the reduced number of pests. Everything is vibrant and coming to life again – fungus, seeds and insects are all starting to pop up all over the place. Native birds have returned and you can now see and hear them all throughout the forest, which never happened back in 2012. The birds have become so friendly that they come up and say hi on tour and you might even have the chance to feed them out of your hand.
The most dramatic change that we have noticed this year was in a photo taken in the forest back in 2013 and then retaken this year - 2018. The differences in the canopy health are spectacular and not only does the wildlife benefit from there being less pests in the forest but the forest itself also does.
Photo: The forest back in 2012 before we began our conservation project
Photo: The forest now in 2018 - check out the differences!
Future goals and plans in the forest:
The long-term goal is to completely restore the forest and have it 100% pest free. We are still far from this goal, but we have already made incredible changes over the past 5 years. Our short-term goal is to get the number of pests in the forest down to 5%.
We have some exciting plans for the future of the forest. Within the next two years we have plans to open walking tracks in a section of the forest for the public use. It will be an incredible experience as the forest will be thriving with native wildlife and the canopy health will be in some of its finest native form - potentially the best native forest you will see in New Zealand!
We can’t wait to see how the future unfolds for the Rotorua Canopy Tours Conservation story, but we do know there is still a big road ahead and we couldn’t do it without everyone that experiences a Rotorua Canopy Tour. Jump on board because we are super excited and pumped for what is about to happen and we would love to have you along with us on the ride!"
Scott - Conservation Lead
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Photo: The ruru release into the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve with Wingspan - making all the hard work worth it!