Why Volunteer in New Zealand?

by isvolunteers on Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Kakapo New Zealand

The endemic and critically endangered Kakapo- there are only 126 living individuals left in the world! (c) Department of Conservation NZ

New Zealand is a first world country in the South Pacific. Our “Clean, Green” image and initiatives in sustainable tourism have put us on the global eco-adventure travel map.  So, why do we need help from volunteer programs like ISV?

The reality is that more than one third of our natural habitats have been decimated due to human mismanagement and encroachment.  There are significant environmental challenges ahead in order for us to protect and conserve what is left and restore where possible much of the degraded lands.

Moa New Zealand

The Moa were a large emu or ostrich like bird that became extinct prior to Europeans but during the time of the Maori.

The mess we made….

New Zealand is geologically, ecologically, and socially a very young country in global terms, and has evolved very differently to that of our trans-Tasman neighbor, Australia.  New Zealand is bird-rich and mammal poor; our only native mammals include two species of bat (themselves under threat due to habitat loss).  However, NZ is famous for our population of rare and endemic bird species including (but by no means limited to) Kiwi, Kakapo, Kokako, Yellow Eyed Penguins and Takahe.  But many of these are under serious threat of extinction.

Socially, New Zealand was settled recently in human terms at around 1250 A.D., by the Maori people. It has been proposed that the Maori are responsible for a number of extinctions (ie. Moa – a distant relative to the emu or ostrich).  Also, early Maori hunting techniques of burning to flush out prey made significant changes to eco-systems.

When Europeans settled in the early 1800s, they began to clear forest and drain wetlands for farming. They also brought with them a number of harmful pest species (such as goats, deer, possums, stoats, and weasels) which had an enormous environmental impact (all of it bad).  With a population of just over 4 million people in a country similar in size to Japan (127 million people), we have a huge task in front of us as a nation to clean up this mess.

New Zealand wildlife

Two introduced pest species the possum (left) and rat (at right), snacking on vulnerable native chicks (c) Department of Conservation NZ

The cleanup…..

Community groups, made up of local, passionate citizens, are on the front-line of evironmental action. However local organizations are often time and resource-poor. Many persons in these community-based organizations are often volunteers themselves. That’s where you come in – motivated ISV groups work alongside passionate “Kiwis” (an affectionate name for a New Zealander), to help to re-establish important eco-systems from rainforests to wetlands, mountains to the coast.

Kiwi kids

“Kiwi” kids helping out on a community riparian planting day (c) Department of Conservation, NZ

Habitat restoration and pest control are the main priorities in New Zealand.  Through tasks such as revegetation, riparian planting, building nest boxes and setting out traps for invasive animals, you can make a positive impact on the survival of some of the planets rarest species.

Get involved, join ISV in New Zealand today and be part of something positive for our nation and our planet.

Shona Hore, ISV New Zealand Program Director

To learn more about ISV and our programs please visit our website or contact our office today!  



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