ISV Helps to Restore Motuihe Island in NZ

by on Thursday, 19 July 2012

Takutairaroa Bay looking East to Waiheke Island © used with permission by Lydia Green (for ISV)

In New Zealand ISV is lucky enough to work in partnership with an amazing organisation who are in the process of restoring a whole island back to its’ natural forest ecosystem state (prior to human arrival in New Zealand). Every year several groups of ISV participants spend their entire two weeks of volunteering out on Motuihe Island, expertly supervised by the volunteer staff of the Motuihe Trust and of course ISV’s Project Leaders. ISV have been working with the Motuihe Trust since 2004 and have achieved an amazing amount of work towards restoring the forest on the Island.

The wharf at Waihoarangatahi Bay looking South West towards Auckland City © used with permission by Lydia Green (for ISV)

Motuihe Island is located in the Hauraki Gulf, a half hour boat trip from downtown Auckland. The 179 hectare (442 acre) island was deforested and converted to farm land during the 20th Century. The Motuihe Project was established in 2000 by members of the community in conjunction with the New Zealand government Department of Conservation to restore the original ecosystems and bring indigenous plants and animals back to the island.

Over the 8 years ISV have been working with Motuihe Trust, ISV participants have planted over 30,000 native trees and plants, worked on over 6000 meters of walking trails and tracks, spent over 1000 volunteer hours clearing invasive weed species from the island, and done a wide range of other tasks to help the wildlife. We’ve monitored Kiwi birds by listening for their calls at night, built nesting boxes for penguins, patrolled the beaches to protect nesting dotterels and oyster catchers. We’ve done species surveys, mapped historic sites with GPS records, worked in the nursery growing new native plants for the island, collected seeds from the forest, cleared rubbish from the beaches and worked alongside school children and community on planting days!

Participants working on the Eastern slopes removing old fence posts which used to be part of the farm © used with permission by Lydia Green (for ISV)

The amount of work achieved on Motuihe Island is phenomenal! The island is now completely covered in the first generation of native trees – these are the fast growing trees which will quickly establish a canopy under which the larger forest trees will sprout from and eventually take over. The work participants have been doing over the last two seasons is primarily filling in gaps that have been missed, and filling in areas with the second generation of native trees which will outgrow the first generation.

The Motuihe Trust have been fantastic to work with over the years, they have greatly appreciated all the work that ISV participants have achieved, and we look forward to continuing the project development into the future! Once the forest ecosystem is restored there are plans to upgrade the education centre and provide a fantastic resource for schools and the community to learn about the natural environment and how we can protect it. Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who have worked on this and other New Zealand projects – your efforts have made such a great difference!

View north with Motutapu Island in the distance - walking to the ferry © used with permission by Lydia Green (for ISV)

For more information on ISV’s New Zealand Volunteer Program please visit our website

Liana Middeldorp, Project Manager with International Student Volunteers, NZ

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