Community group wins award for protecting threatened river birds

A Waimakariri community group has been recognised internationally for its work protecting Canterbury’s braided river birds. The Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group (ARRG) won the Australasian Wildlife Management Society (AWMS) award for practical wildlife management in December.

With funding support from the Waimakariri Water Zone Committee, ARRG has been running a predator trapping programme along an 18km stretch of the Ashley-Rakahuri River from just west of Rangiora to where the river crosses the state highway just north of Waikuku township.

Waimakariri Water Zone Committee Chair Dave Ashby congratulated the group for their achievements and their long-term work to protect native birds.

“The work of the group to protect terns, wrybills, black-billed gulls and other vulnerable species should be applauded.

“One of the zone committee’s key priorities is to deliver improvements in overall braided river ecosystem health of the Ashley/Rakahuri River and the work of the group goes a long way to achieving this.

“We are looking forward to continue working with ARRG and to achieve more positive results together.”

After receiving the award, ARRG chair Nick Ledgard said he was asked what he considered to be ARRG’s biggest challenge for the future.

“I felt it was keeping on top of invasive weeds, which can quickly reduce suitable bird feeding and breeding habitat. Our surveys show that we can keep on top of the predators in the controlled area with trapping, but weed control is an ongoing and repeated issue if we are to maintain the clean shingle areas the birds need to breed.”

In the past three years the Waimakariri Water Zone committee has provided more than $18,000 in Immediate Steps funding not only for predator trapping, but also for river island creation and weed removal.

One of the collaborations between the Waimakariri Water Zone Committee and ARRG was to create weed-free islands along the Ashley/Rakahuri River in 2017. Watch this video to learn more about the project: