Ecology in motion on Motutapu Island

16 December 2014

SBN staff member and Million Metres Streams Project communications manager Claire Warren has recently been awarded a Rotary prize to recognise her volunteer restoration efforts.

Claire was awarded the Bob Stewart Environmental Award for her work as a volunteer on Motutapu Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf at a ceremony in Auckland earlier this month.

The Rotary Club of Newmarket established the Bob Stewart Environmental Award to recognise individuals who have made a significant contribution to the ecological restoration of Motutapu Island. 

The Motutapu Restoration Trust has completed a vast amount of conservation work to restore the island’s habitats and wildlife for future generations.

Motutapu covers an area of 1510 hectares, but most of the land is farmed pasture. There are now approximately 75 hectares of volunteer replanted native forest.

As a volunteer for the Trust, Claire led a project to expand the plant nursery to raise plants on the island, a project which was made possible due to grants from the Air New Zealand Environment Trust and the Lotteries Grants Board.

Claire led a nursery subcommittee to scope the project, and then appointed contractors to build a seedling potting shed/plant nursery, and to do groundwork to stop the complex from sinking into the soil. The project took five years, and the nursery officially opened in October 2014.

Having recently completed her Master of Science degree on the dispersal of native seeds in forests, Claire has always been a conservationist.

Claire believes it’s important to restore native forest ecosystems to places like Motutapu Island because as a predator-free haven, the island can become home to a host of rare and endangered species, helping protect them into the future. 

“It’s important for people to see what the forest used to look like – this is ecology in motion,” says Claire.

“Motutapu Island, which adjoins Rangitoto, is on Auckland’s doorstep so it’s just a short ferry ride away to come and see the growing forest and some native birds that have been reintroduced or introduced themselves. What’s so cool is that kakariki and bellbirds have come back to Motutapu all by themselves since predators were removed.”  

To find out more about the Motutapu Restoration Trust, click here.