Woodleigh School well on the way to being predator-free

You’re likely to see a number of tui, kererū and other birdlife when you enter the bush next to Woodleigh School, New Plymouth.

You may also see weta, lizards and bugs running along the forest floor. 

The bush is alive with more native wildlife and plants thanks to the work of students and teachers, who have been enhancing biodiversity and increasing predator trapping for just over a year, enabling some species to thrive.

Earlier this year Year 3 and 4 students participated in a Bioblitz to understand what animals and plant species occupied a section of the bush, with Taranaki Regional Council(external link) Education Officer Emily Roberts.

This set the scene for the type of work that followed; predator and trapping analysis, bird counts, and the first steps to build a lizard lounge – a man-made haven where lizards can hide and take cover when feeding and resting.

“Understanding the birdlife and other important living things already in the area was really important,” Woodleigh School teacher Sharon Thompson says. 

“It encouraged discussion around how students could help protect native species and increase their numbers.”

Predator monitoring followed using wax tags, chew cards and tracking tunnels, to help understand what types of predators were present in the bush.

This information also ensured rat traps already set in the bush were in the right locations and were continually monitored by the students.

The Year 3 and 4 students were also amazed to see first-hand what a predator-free environment looks like with a trip to Rotokare Scenic Reserve. This trip was heavily subsidised after students raised more than $1000 by selling rat traps to their community, thanks to Towards Predator-Free Taranaki(external link), Thompson says.

The inquiring minds of students learning about biodiversity in their bush has extended to other school subjects. It's been woven into literacy, maths, video editing, journal writing about their experiences, and working on a budget to create a lizard lounge in the bush area later this year.

Satisfyingly, students across the school can see how their efforts are working.

“What is fun is seeing the progress and the birds that are coming back to our bush. There are more tui, kereru and fantails. Walking down to our bush in the mornings is really nice,” Year 5 student Taylor Reid says.

The broader school community is also getting behind students’ efforts participating in Towards Predator-Free Taranaki, buying $10 rat-traps-and-boxes that students sell as a school fund-raiser.

“The return of birdlife is thanks to a wider commitment from our neighbours and school families,” Thompson says.

Do you want a trap for your backyard?

Contact Taranaki Regional Council on 0800 736 222 or email pftaranaki@trc.govt.nz.

Find out more here https://trc.govt.nz/envir…/working-together/pf-taranaki2050/(external link)