Creating a Conservation Community - Predator Free Whangarei

Creating a Conservation Community

The Ocean Beach Landcare Group has not only helped protect the native species, but also created a strong conservation-minded community.

Ocean Beach at Whangārei Heads is arguably one of the best beaches in New Zealand, popular amongst surfers, families, and tourists. The long coastal strip is home to many native bird and plant species, with the lower end of the beach neighbouring the Bream Head/Te Whara reserve. A keen group of locals are helping protect this special area.

Since its inception in 2016, the Ocean Beach Landcare Group have done incredible work to organically grow a more cohesive conservation community. The landcare group covers the area from the Peach Cove car park to Ocean Beach, and they have around 35 households in their contacts list.

“There were lots of individuals doing work in their own backyard but I think our landcare group was able to bring about more cohesiveness. Now, in the community, there is a growing awareness and unified approach with local residents letting the landcare group know if they see any pests. People are more proactive with pest control,” says Erik Dombroski, coordinator of the trapping programme for the group.

The group has established extensive pest control lines in the area and formed the Ocean Beach Habitat Restoration group that meets monthly to remove various weed species as well as planting of native species at the beach or at individual properties.

They also work very closely to support the Bream Head Conservation Trust and act as the reserve’s ‘buffer zone’, taking responsibility for part of its most recent initiative called ‘Load the Road’, which helps reduce the likelihood of incursions.

The landcare group explains that one of the greatest outcomes have been creating this community spirit.

How did they do it? Melissa Arsenault, one of the founders of the group, said there was “a lot of learning, keeping information consistent and good communication.” A strength was the landcare group’s messaging educational material about pest and weed control. “It is so positive to see what we have learned and achieved in our ongoing efforts to protect and improve the bio-diversity within our Ocean Beach community.

The local community is also unique in that it is flanked by public conservation land and its remoteness from any facilities has meant that they rely on each other in times of need.

Ocean Beach Landcare has been a continued supporter for Predator Free Whangārei and recognises it is an ambitious project for the mainland. It helps to bring a greater vision for the rohe (area) and with the technology being used from the Possum Free Whangārei Heads project, such as the new GIS maps and trail cameras, it has helped connect the dots between the multiple pest control efforts happening in this conservation community.

February 17, 2023