The “whole picture” is being talked about on Donna and Phil Cram’s farm near Awatuna as they host a series of community get-togethers to talk about what they can do to bring the birdsong back to their backyard.
With support from the Taranaki Regional Council the Crams and their community group of over 34 farmers have committed to maintaining 550 traps across approximately 14,000 hectares in the upper Oeo Catchment area in South Taranaki. The group aims to rid the area of predators to support and encourage the return of native wildlife.
Over 30 people turned out to the Crams’ farm at their most recent meeting where presentations were given on a number of different topics, from tips on how to trap a stoat, to the impact that possums have on paddocks and grass growth. Locals were also shown how to operate a range of different traps by Council environment services staff and Towards Predator-Free Taranaki contractors.
Auroa School Deputy Principal Myles Webb talked about the sound lure his group of students had designed and built to work alongside the traps. Trish Rankin, 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, also gave a summary of what she had learnt from her trip earlier in the year to Harvard University.
This was the second meeting the Crams have hosted on their farm and they’ve seen interest from their community around ways to improve the environment grow with each one.
Donna says farmers generally want to “do the right thing” and help restore what was in their riparian margins.
”Predator free is something that we wanted our farm to be part of and we were really lucky that our community of farmers chose to be part of this initiative with us.
“We really want the birdsong back and when we start seeing kererū, in our backyards then we’ll be excited, and we’ll know that what we’re doing is working and making a difference.”
The Crams have been all about ‘doing’, and their 117 hectare dairy farm is a reflection of that. With riparian fencing and planting on 8.2km of streambanks almost completed and the recent construction of a wetland to help filter farm run-off, the Crams’ approach is focused not only on improving and future-proofing their farming business through a range of initiatives but adding value to their property through enhancements to the environment.
“It’s about looking at the big picture and the whole picture within our catchment, setting more traps, enhancing our riparian planting, connecting our riparian corridors, so that we’re not only providing shelter belts for our stock as the planting grows but we’re also helping create safe and healthy habitats for native wildlife like lizards, skinks, wētā, and birdlife,” Donna says.
“Private land owners have a part to play in restoring Taranaki but we also need to be profitable. I think we can do both. Maybe one day we will be able to claim carbon credits from a portion of the 10,000 or more plants we have planted.
“Farmers are busy especially from mid-July to December. I can see there may be opportunities for a partnership between urban volunteers and farmers for help to rebait traps where farmers are struggling to make time.
“I am proud to be part of this community. We want to do the right thing for our environment and it takes a community effort to do that.”
Follow the link to find out more about the Towards Predator-Free Taranaki rural programme.