February 2023 update from The Forest Bridge Trust CEO

Craig Presland

Dear TFBT landowners, volunteers, and stakeholders,

The two tropical cyclones which we experienced across our Kaipara/Rodney region on 27-28th January (Hale) and 12-14th February (Gabrielle), as well as the large volume of rain recorded between 1st-2nd February, have caused widespread roading and landscape damage, perhaps on a scale not seen since Cyclone Bola struck back in 1988. While the third clean-up is about to begin, many would say it has been a perpetual clean-up since late January. The scale of the damage, both across our region and the upper North Island, is unfathomable.

To the families of those who have lost their lives, or have been critically injured, across the upper North Island we offer our deepest sympathies. While we have resilient and strong communities that have been impacted, the effort and resources required to restore our infrastructure, rebuild our homes and community facilities etc. will be huge. We are faced with difficult and uncertain times ahead.

We are seeing the effects of global warming and climate change. One wonders what adverse weather is in front of us over the weeks and months ahead in terms of severity, frequency, and timing. With our water tables already very high, any additional significant rainfall is bound to trigger more landslips and road damage.

Landowners and volunteers are the lifeblood of our organisation, and we are keenly aware of the impact that these adverse weather events are having on the anxiety levels and morale of our communities. Many landowners will have more urgent and critical priorities than checking traps in the aftermath of recent weather events. We want you to know that we remain focused on our kaupapa of protecting biodiversity and predator control, and re-establishing our trapping infrastructure wherever it has been affected. As the impacts of these weather events become more apparent, and landowners work their way through their list of priorities, our teams will be ready to respond to their needs so that the contributions to our collective landscape effort are not lost.

Our performance to date in establishing predator control across the Kaipara/Rodney region (which we refer to as our “Wider Bridge”) has been very pleasing. We have achieved 25,617 hectares under mustelid control (ferrets, stoats and weasels) since our Jobs For Nature-funded project began in October 2020 leading up to 31 December 2022, this involves the setting of 2,385 TFBT mustelid traps (DOC 200’s and DOC 250’s) and over 1,000 traps which have been provided to, set and maintained by our landowners and volunteers. We are very proud of this achievement and are on track to reaching our 54,000-hectare target by 30 June 2025. Support from our landowners and volunteers remains critical.

Apart from setting traps and traplines, an important component of our business is maintaining these traps in future ie. trap catch checking, re-baiting and recording results on the Trap NZ portal. We need to balance our efforts in setting new traps, maintaining our existing traps, and working with our landowners and volunteers so that they set and maintain their traps. In terms of the bigger picture, we also need to balance our quest for driving predator control, land connectivity and biodiversity with landowners’ more immediate needs for land infrastructure restoration, gaining road access, repairs to fencing, replacement of lost riparian plantings etc.

We will continue to work closely with our landowners and volunteers, as always, and greatly appreciate their ongoing support in these challenging times.

Nga mihi

Craig Presland (CEO)
15th February 2023