Eight environmental conservation groups in the Western Bay of Plenty are celebrating after approval of a TECT grant which will provide funding for two years of operating costs.
The funding application was approved in September, granting $341,880. Facilitated by Bay Conservation Alliance (BCA), the application pulled together the various needs of BCA and seven of its member groups into one collective submission.
The joint funding application was the second of its kind to be received by TECT, with a similar submission made by BCA in 2019.
BCA is an organisation that supports community-led environmental restoration and nature conservation.
The charity works to reduce the administration load on its members, supporting them with tasks like financial management, communications and marketing, volunteer recruitment and management, fundraising, advocacy, and project management.
Bay Conservation Alliance CEO Michelle Elborn says it is constantly obvious that the back-end administration of any charitable work can be taxing.
"So, for us to be able to offer some support to lighten the load on things like website development, funding applications, or organising volunteer systems means the group volunteers can enjoy the hands-on stuff more."
Elborn says that having one application has been a game-changer.
"This is such a valuable opportunity to reduce the admin burden on our member groups. By BCA coordinating one funding application on behalf of multiple groups, it becomes a win-win for everyone.
"We can support our groups to understand what funding options match their needs and hopefully give TECT some further assurance their investment is well placed and supported."
Elborn notes the ease of the application process with support from TECT staff.
"The criteria is clear, and while the application process is thorough, it all makes sense. Now we have traversed it a couple of times, it's a comfortable process. The best thing is staff are very approachable and supportive, where any clarifications are required.
"It feels fantastic to receive this multi-year funding a second time around. Work in the environment is ongoing, and so to have certainty of project funds beyond a year is so reassuring. And again, it reduces the admin load, meaning the focus can be on the real work on the ground – so thank you, TECT."
A new initiative launched by BCA in January was the Bay Conservation Cadets – Tauira Mahi programme, which will be supported by TECT's funding.
The employment, training and development programme seeks to upskill unemployed, under-employed, or those changing career pathways whilst also delivering environmental and conservation benefits.
Cadets have an employment contract and receive training in multiple areas to enable a career path into the environmental sector and the many positions that Jobs for Nature and other programmes are providing.
"We are currently into our third training programme for the year, which has given us the opportunity to now work with 30 adult cadets," says Elborn. "It's been really inspiring to watch them grow, with a number of them now in longer-term employment relating to conservation."
BCA also run a nature education programme in schools, where students discover how unique New Zealand is, gain an insight into many of the conservation challenges in New Zealand, and learn a set of practical conservation skills.
Project Parore was another one of the successful TECT funding recipients. The project promotes sustainable catchment management across eight stream catchments from their sources in the Kaimai Forest through the foothills and lowland to their estuaries in the northern Tauranga Harbour.
Key components will be the restoration of healthy soils and with measures to promote the retention of sediment, healthy pollutant-free water in the streams and, thus, healthy estuaries and a healthy harbour. A healthy harbour should host good numbers of parore.
The restoration of sustainable local terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity demands attention be paid to the effects of introduced exotic plants and animals, and programmes will be directed towards their control.
David Peters, Chair of Project Parore says Katikati lies in the centre of the project. An urban works programme there led by Project Parore employed a 'Katikati Environmental Activator' who works with that community and their volunteer base.
"Volunteers are an important part of our team, but the scale of the work required to meet our objectives outside town means we must develop a paid workforce who will be trained and equipped to make significant progress quickly. There are two paid staff now, and we will be hiring more soon.
"To realise our vision, we have had to develop a range of funding streams. TECT's contribution has allowed us to develop the necessary administration and accounting services we need to support the program we have planned, which over five years is expected to cost around $5m."
The Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust was another successful recipient, receiving $30,720 in funding.
Hans Pendergrast, Trustee of Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust says they are planning a significant kokako translocation project and with this comes a huge amount of administration load to enable the right stakeholder engagement, consultations and permitting processes.
"This is on top of the day-to-day operations for the Trust, which is all volunteer-led. So, this funding allows for a small level of paid resourcing to ensure we are efficient in this process and do not overburden our current volunteers.
"The project is likely to take several years before we bring new birds into the forest, so having the assurance of two-year funding to help the process is very welcome support."
The approved funding across all groups is:
- Bay Conservation Alliance – Two years' operating costs: $127,500
- Friend of the Blade – Two years' operating costs: $6,800
- Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society – Two years' operating costs: $85,000
- ARRC Trust – Two years' operating costs: $7,800
- Western Bay Wildlife Trust - Two years' operating costs: $24,000
- Te Whakakaha Trust – Two years' operating costs/equipment purchases: $9,060
- Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust – Two years' operating costs: $30,720
- Project Parore (formerly Uretara Estuary Managers) - Two years' operating costs: $51,000