West Auckland’s Ark in the Park wins national environment prize

Independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird is celebrating the Ministry for the Environment Green Ribbon Award won last night for its Ark in the Park fenceless reserve in the Waitākere Ranges.

The project, which is managed by Forest & Bird and Auckland Council, picked up the award in the “Stewardship Champions” category at a function in Wellington.  

“This award is a credit to the work of more than 600 volunteers who together put more than 9,000 hours a year into the Ark,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Hōne McGregor.  

“The Ark would not exist without these people, who carry out a wide range of hands-on conservation tasks,” says Hōne McGregor.

The Ark’s volunteers have reduced predators to such low numbers that the Department of Conservation is allowing native birds like the kokako and the pōpokotea/whitehead to be shifted from other parts of the Auckland region, and then released into the Ark.  

“The Ark allows Aucklanders to actively take part in a large-scale, ground-breaking conservation project, just 30 minutes from downtown Auckland,” says Hōne McGregor.

Forest & Bird, as a member of the Genesis Energy National Whio Recovery Programme - along with the Department of Conservation - also picked up a prize in the “Protecting Our Diversity” category. 

Only 3000 native whio, or blue duck, remain. The recovery programme, which carries out predator control in whio habitat, will achieve its target of protecting 400 pairs of whio by 2016 - three years ahead of schedule.