Gisborne conservationist wins “Pestbuster” of the year

Gisborne conservation crusader Grant Vincent has won Forest & Bird’s national Pestbuster award for his efforts leading pest control at Gray’s Bush Scenic Reserve.

Pestbuster Grant Vincent, Photo: Gisborne Herald.

Pestbuster Grant Vincent, Photo: Gisborne Herald.

The award, announced on World Environment Day, is made each year to honour pest control projects run or led by Forest & Bird branches.

Grant Vincent is well known in the district for his conservation work and role as the chairperson of the Gisborne Forest & Bird branch.

He spearheads the branch’s pest control project at Gray’s Bush and has clocked up 150 volunteer hours, organising regular trap rounds, co-ordinating volunteers, recording results and liaising with other conservation groups.

The group manages 20 ‘DOC200’ stoat and rat traps, and 30 rat traps throughout the 12ha reserve, and has eradicated 207 pests since trapping began in October 2010.

Grant Vincent says it’s important to preserve the patch of rare kahikatea and puriri forest as it is a reminder of the vegetation once common on the Gisborne plains. “There’s nothing like Gray’s Bush,” Grant Vincent says. “It’s an example of what the forest would’ve been like. We’re extremely lucky that it’s still there because everything else has been cleared.”

The Department of Conservation recognises the reserve as “nationally rare forest type”. Some of the trees are over 400 years old, and it is home to an array of native birds including tui, kereru, bellbirds, fantails and shining cuckoos.

Grant Vincent says regular pest control is vital to the survival of the reserve’s resident native birds as possums, rats, stoats, hedgehogs and feral cats can wreak havoc on native bird populations, and unlike fenced sanctuaries the reserve is vulnerable to reinvasion.

Gisborne Forest & Bird committee member John McLean says Grant Vincent’s dedication and relationships with the wider community demonstrates his strong leadership skills. “He really commits to the project full-time. He sets a wonderful example for [the volunteers].”

Forest & Bird predator and weed control at the reserve complements work by the Department of Conservation and EIT Tairawhiti Conservation Corps.

Grant Vincent will be presented with the Pestbuster Award at Forest & Bird’s 90th anniversary dinner in Wellington on June 29.

Pests trapped by Forest & Bird at Gray’s Scenic Bush Reserve Oct 2010 – May 2013

Pest species    Number trapped Oct 2010-May 2013
Rats                   127
Hedgehogs      60
Feral cats         13
Stoats                 2
Ferrets               2
Possums          1
Mice                    2

Contact: Grant Vincent (06) 868 8236, gisborne.branch@forestandbird.org.nz

Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation, with 50 branches nationwide. It protects our native plants, animals and wild places, on land and in our oceans.