Forest & Bird Denniston Plateau BioBlitz – Call for Volunteers

20 Dec 2011

Forest & Bird is organising a BioBlitz on the Denniston Plateau from the evening of Friday, March 2 to the evening of Sunday, March 4, 2012. 

>> Please note: due to an overwhelming response we are no longer taking registrations, however people are welcome to visit the bioblitz during the day of Saturday March 3rd. Thank-you for your support.

The Denniston Plateau is part of a unique environment within the New Zealand landscape.  Evolved from sandstones formed over coal measures around 40 – 60 million years ago, tectonic uplift has raised these pavements to around 600 metres above sea level.  The climatic conditions and infertile environment have given rise to nearly 20 different ecosystems, including species endemic to the area, like the giant land snail, Powelliphanta patrickensis.   

Forest & Bird’s objectives in organising a BioBlitz are to

  • Increase public awareness of the biodiversity of the Denniston Plateau (including members and supporters of Forest & Bird)
  • Increase our knowledge of the plateau by sampling plots across 18 different ecosystems and potentially identifying species not previously known
  • Provide further scientific information to support our application for a 5900 hectare reserve centred on the Denniston Plateau
  • Stimulate public pressure on the government to decline access and concession applications by Australian-owned Bathurst Resources for an open-cast coal mine on the Denniston Plateau. In 2010 the government promised to publicly notify applications for access arrangements for all future significant mines on conservation land.  Bathurst Resources has been given resource consent for the coal mine at Denniston but it also needs a concession and access arrangement from the Minister of Conservation. The Minister has now declined to publicly notify the access arrangement for the mine and allow the public to have a say.  

About BioBlitz

BioBlitz is a concept for promoting biodiversity research and public awareness. In New Zealand protocols and other planning materials are available from Landcare Research in Auckland. The materials address such issues as health and safety, protection of the environment, handling and return of specimens, and data recording.

Traditionally a BioBlitz takes place over a 24 hour period when teams of scientists work with members of the public to locate and identify as many species as possible in a defined area. The challenge is to find as many species as possible – and usually some new species are found. A base camp is set up at the survey area with technical equipment and other resources for identifying and recording species. Because of the large area of the plateau, this BioBlitz will be held over a weekend

Volunteers required

Volunteers are being sought to join teams to help find unusual plants and wildlife. People need to be fit and keen to get down to ground level in looking for life among the shrubs, rocks and humus for shifts of around six hours.  Previous experience of field work in the outdoors is welcome, but not necessary. You will be working with experienced people in the outdoors, with informal opportunities for discussion and learning along the way. Please volunteer yourself, or suggest others who may like to be involved.

Location: The Denniston Plateau is 600 metres above sea level, approximately 18 km north-east of Westport.

Accommodation: A group booking at Gentle Annie has been made for Friday March 2 through Sunday March 4. Volunteers will need to pay for their own accommodation and make their own meal arrangements.  Gentle Annie is at the mouth of the Mokihinui River and provides a wide range of accommodation options from tenting to shared bunkrooms.  More details will be made available to registrants. 

Please contact organiser Rachel Hurford at for more information. 

To enable smooth organisation, please register soon. To go to our online registration form go here