Sunday, 23 May 2010

BLUESKIN BAY CONSERVATION STRATEGY

By Joseph Dougherty

Blueskin Bay is a special place. Fringed on three sides by hills, all
of which are decorated with bush to some degree, and on the fourth by
the open ocean and a long thin sand bar. Dominated in its centre by a
large estuary, Blueskin Bay is,
for an area so close to a city, a seriously wild and open place.

It is a privilege to be able to live here. It offers much to the
outdoor enthusiast and much to those who simply wish to enjoy a
feeling of space and naturalness in their own home.

However, as we probably all know, not all is perfect here in the Bay -
the fish in the estuary are a sad echo of the multitude here only 40
years ago. Hector's dolphins are present only in very low numbers,
only a fragment of the estuary's marshes remain, eelgrass is vastly
reduced, only tiny pockets of podocarp forests (rimu, totara, miro,
kahikatea) are still to be found, pests abound and native birds and
lizards are seriously reduced in number and diversity.

Which is why many people have been attempting to reverse these
problems; focussing on restoring an area or helping a species. There
are many wonderful, dedicated people living here, doing their best to
right the situation.

There are landowners in the Bay who have taken the attitude that their place
needs to have its naturalness enhanced and have been actively
restoring native bush to their property, like Frank and Lynley O'Neill
at Waitete Bush, and Warren and Sarah Hogg at Carey's Creek delta in
Evansdale. There are also people who have taken on enhancing public
lands, such as at Orokonui, Warrington Domain, Doctor's Point and
elsewhere.

Much has been achieved. Yet, I believe, much more could be achieved if
there was a plan for the ecological management of the whole catchment
of Blueskin Bay. This could be something like a Conservation Strategy,
which in itself could form a part of a Sustainability Strategy for
Blueskin Bay. Much more could be achieved in terms of assisting
struggling local species of plants and animals, of which we have a
few; such as sea lions, little blue penguins, shore bindweed, falcons
and Hector's dolphins; and in helping both to restore health to the
local ecosystem and enhancing the quality of life of the local
community.

Much more could be achieved in terms of support for existing projects
if it were possible to have dedicated means of support from local
people, or from local groups and from local and central government
agencies. These projects would also do better if linked to each other
and more general conservation efforts, such as pest control or weed
control.

Conservation work requires skilled people, knowledge, labour, time,
materials and above all, funds. Identifying mechanisms to source funds
and, I believe, to generate some of the needed funds from local
resources, is vital to the long term health of our ecosystem.
Otherwise projects stutter, falter and sometimes are simply undone
over time.

The benefits to all and to our local environment from having a plan
for ecological management and ecological restoration could be huge.
For one, we could restore the Bay to being a fishing spot of note if
we had a concerted programme of identifying the needed actions and
pursuing them. Forty years ago, fishermen said, the Bay was so full of
flounder that 50 was a good catch and to get that took only an hour or
so. A steep contrast with today's experience.

Could we restore them? I believe it is worth a try and I extend an
invitation to all people interested in discussing such an idea to get
in touch with me or to write to the 'Blueskin News' to share their
ideas.

Conservation Strategy proponent, Joseph Dougherty, 482 2006,
jannjo@earthlight.co.nz

From blueskin.co.nz and 'Blueskin News' published by Blueskin Media:
voluntary/non-profit community publishers in Blueskin Bay (Seacliff,
Warrington, Evansdale, Waitati, Doctors Point), Dunedin, New Zealand.
All material sent to or published by us is "copyleft" in the public
domain and may be freely shared, archived, re-edited and republished.
If you want to credit the source it's "blueskin.co.nz".

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