Support available to achieve the best outcomes for the land and environment

Two new faces that you may see around, are our biodiversity and land management advisors for Christchurch West Melton and Banks Peninsula, Martin Rutledge and Will Todhunter.

The pair are both passionate about their roles, and are keen to talk to people to help them get the most out of their land while reducing their impact on the environment. 

Will Todhunter and Martin Rutledge

Will Todhunter and Martin Rutledge

Their experience

Martin’s background includes 26 years of working at the Department of Conservation. There he worked as a freshwater ecologist and in marine reserves, as well as doing dolphin conservation work. This involved him counting Hector’s dolphins off Banks Peninsula while flying in a small plane.

“It’s amazing what you see from the air out there – we were flying out to 10 kilometres offshore and we’d not only spot dolphins, but whales, seals, sharks, schools of salmon and kahawai and heaps of sea birds,” Martin said.  

He also worked as a consultant for inanga/whitebait spawning and other special projects.

Will completed a Bachelor of Science at Otago University three years ago. He’s since done extensive work with the Christchurch City Council as a ranger and worked as an independent ecological consultant.

Their roles

As biodiversity and land management advisors, Martin and Will have a lot on their plates. This includes providing people with support for their Farm Environment Plans, advice about good management practice and helping people fund their biodiversity projects.

Martin said it’s a busy and full-on job, but one that’s equally rewarding.

“We’re here to help people achieve their goals and ensure what they do on the land doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment.

“There are some great biodiversity values in our region, and it’s important these are protected from the mountains to the sea (Ki uta ki tai) for future generations to enjoy,” he said.

Will said there’s a lot of ongoing project management with the job, and no one day looks the same.

“A typical day could involve a landowner ringing up to say ‘we’ve got this great project in mind, can you have a look?’

“If it checks out, we look at some opportunities to help fund it, lend a hand, or give some advice,” he said.

Will said the pair generally spend half their day in the field and the other half working with project teams in the office to plan out how we can best help people.

A success story

An example of the outcomes the pair can help achieve for landowners is the work taking place with a landowner in the Edwards Stream sub-catchment of Wainui Stream on Banks Peninsula.

Recently approval has been given to assist funding the fencing and establishment of a third QEII covenant on the property. This will allow the native forest regenerating in the headwaters to flourish and lead to improved water quality and habitat for stream life – including threatened native fish species and invertebrates.

“My role (and that of the advisors before me) was to work with the QEII National Trust, who had a great relationship with the landowner and knew their willingness to protect the regenerating forest through fencing and the establishment of covenants,” Martin said.

“It’s a great outcome all round to see the progressive protection of this sub-catchment and the biodiversity and water quality benefits it will bring and at the same time allow the landowner to meet the protection goals for their property,” Martin added.

Get in touch

The pair are encouraging those with ideas for community projects, as well as landowners in Christchurch West Melton and Banks Peninsula, to get in touch with them to discuss their ideas and get advice.

“Biodiversity is a huge passion of ours, as is land management. We’re excited to continue helping landowners find good solutions to issues they face,” Will said.

Environment Canterbury has funding available for biodiversity projects like the Edwards Stream project.

To get in touch with your local zone team visit ecan.govt.nz/myzone.