Women of The Forest Bridge TrustJunction Magazine Article

Locally, women are answering the call to engage in restoration initiatives and community projects. The Forest Bridge Trust is no exception. The Trust employs 18 women who all share a passion for conservation. Led by CEO, Ana Christmas a common thread among these women is a desire to make a positive difference and collaborate with community.

“We love working with, educating, and empowering landowners to achieve their own conservation goals,” says Tris Bondsfield the Community Liaison Lead. “We are all passionate about making a meaningful difference, leaving people and places better than before”.

Providing a safe forest bridge for kiwi to traverse from the Kaipara Coast and reunite with their cousins in Tāwharanui was the inspiration for the Trust founders Gill and Kevin Adshead. With a developing focus on other native species, the Trust is now playing a significant role in the nationwide Predator Free 2050 initiative.

The Trust’s ecologist, Dr Virginia Moreno, is implementing activities such as kiwi call & forest bird counts, matuku-hūrepo/bittern surveys, bat assessments, trail camera monitoring of predators, and habitat connectivity modelling. “Stoats are the primary reason why 95% of kiwi hatched in the wild perish before they reach breeding age” explains Virginia. “We must eradicate predators from the forest bridge if kiwi are to have a fighting chance”.

The Trusts Predator Control team establishes and maintains traplines across the bridge, and Eliane Lagnaz is a highly valued member of this team. With years of dedicated conservation volunteering experience, her expertise is a tremendous asset when she visits landowners to assist in setting up their traplines.

Sustaining The Trust’s ambitious project relies on enlisting a dedicated team of volunteers to help maintain traps and monitor trail cameras. Leading this effort are Elena Siun and Paula Griffin. With a keen interest in both conservation and community well-being, this dynamic duo recognizes that rallying the community around a conservation project not only benefits the environment but also enhances overall health and well-being.

“Volunteering with The Forest Bridge Trust offers a unique opportunity to be part of something truly exceptional”, says Paula. “It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, witness the vibrant birdlife, and build meaningful connections with fellow volunteers.”

Angela Parkin and Katie Forno serve as the Trust’s Fencing and Riparian Planting Advisors, despite dealing with the repercussions of adverse weather conditions, their dedication remains unwavering. An appreciation of landowners’ challenges, effective communication, and unity (mahitahitanga) is key to our role”, explains Katie. “It’s about all people of the Kaipara coming together in a project that will span generations”.

Across Aotearoa, conservation groups are coming together to contribute to the goal of a predator-free New Zealand, safeguarding the native wildlife that makes our land unique.

“We deeply appreciate the importance of protecting the taonga of the forest, awa and moana,” says CEO Ana Christmas

The women of The Forest Bridge Trust are proud to be playing their part, committed to restoring the natural beauty and ecological balance of New Zealand’s diverse landscapes, nurturing the land, and preserving cultural and ecological legacies.

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