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Sonja and Elisa

Checking out the Kauri trees out at Kirehe fire site.

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With the start of spring we are now welcoming students and visitors from overseas to join us for our Environmental Programme. Our first two students are here now. Sonja is here for 4 weeks and Elisa will be with us for about 8 weeks. Both are having a great time and are really good fun to work with. Today we spent the morning working in the nursery and in the afternoon we went out to Kirehe to check out the Kauri trees we have planted over the last 3 years.

We offer a range of environmental experiences, working within our projects, and we mix this with activities and visits to cool places all around the Coromandel Peninsula. Over the next couple of weeks I will get the girls to give you some of their thoughts about the things they have been doing here.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Environmental Programme, then get in touch with us through the website. We can’t take too many people at once so places are limited, but we are taking bookings for this summer now.

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Possums

Another One Bites The Dust.

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Possums are a huge problem in the New Zealand native bush. They were introduced in the mid 1800’s and while the population grew slowly at first, the numbers eventually exploded, until at their peak in the 1980’s there were between 70 and 80 million possums living in NZ. They not only destroy our forests, but they have been filmed eating the eggs, chicks and even the adults of many of our native bird species. They also eat invertebrates such as NZ wetas and some of our rare native snails.

But it is to our native plants and trees that they do the most damage. Consider this, today there are about 35 million possums in New Zealand, (that’s more possums than sheep!!) and in just one night those possums can eat their way through 12,000 tonnes of leaves, fruits, blossoms and shoots. That works out to be over 4 million tonnes of vegetation each year. No wonder we don’t like them here in New Zealand.

We have been trapping them in the Waitaia as part of our work with Project Kiwi for the last few years. Sonja wasn’t too keen to be introduced to this one but she did agree to have her photo taken with it.

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Alicia

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Alicia

Great news. Here at COLC we have been busy planning the season ahead and just how we would manage all the things that need to be done to keep all the Environment Projects going, and growing, and at the same time provide a worthwhile experience for local and overseas visitors to come and be a part of.

It was very clear to me that I could not do this alone and so the success of what we are trying to do here was dependent on us being able to get the help we needed to make it all work.

Alicia has been working with me for two years now and she knows the projects inside out, and has build up a really good knowledge of New Zealand and the conservation efforts that we are involved in.

I am very happy to announce that she has been granted a new visa and she will now be able to stay on and continue to share her knowledge, and work within our projects, and with our visitors. This is going to make a huge difference to us all and will help secure the future of the Coromandel Outdoor Learning Centre, and our Environment Projects.

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Kereru in the Garden.

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Kereru in the Garden.

As I was working in the garden this morning we had a visit from these two beautiful Kereru, also know as the native New Zealand Wood Pigeon. These are the largest pigeons in the world and in the past they were a prized food source for the Maori people, but these magnificent birds are protected today. They are under threat from predators like rats and stoats, so the work we do with our trapline, helps the Kereru as much as it helps Kiwis.

Kereru eat the fruit, leaves, twigs buds and shoots of more than 100 different native plants and sometimes they gorge themselves so heavily on ripe fruit, that the fermenting fruit makes them quite drunk, and they have even been known to fall out of trees.

These birds are very important to the survival of New Zealand forests, because they are the only birds left (the others are all extinct) that are big enough to swallow the large fruits of native trees such as Taraire and Karaka. The seeds in the Kereru droppings establish the trees in new areas and keep the forest rejuvenated.

These two guys were feeding on the blossoms of a plum tree and were happy to sit there while I took some photos.

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Sand Dune Plants

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Sand Dune Plants

This plant is called Knobby Rush, the Maori name for it is Wiwi, and it plays an important part in the protection of our sand dunes. Last year we grew about 4000 of these plants and in this season we aim to do 10,000. There is a huge demand for these plants for the back dunes of all our beaches and we know that no matter now many we grow, there will be community groups wanting them. We are working closely with our local council, and hope to supply more and more of the Wiwi that they will need in the years to come.

Wiwi is not hard to grow, but as every plant needs to be pricked out and planted individually, it is still a big job when we start talking about big numbers of plants.

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