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Waitaki groups receive ORC funding for enviro projects

Waitaki App

Staff Reporter

05 June 2024, 12:16 AM

Waitaki groups receive ORC funding for enviro projectsA large proportion of the Otago Regional Council's Eco Fund is going towards native plantings. Photo: Noslam/Facebook

Five Waitaki groups are among 33 which will benefit from Otago Regional Council environmental grants.


Environmental projects across Otago have been granted a total $854,733 in this year’s annual Eco Fund and Incentives Funding programmes.



The recipients from both funding streams were confirmed by councillors in May at a full council meeting in Dunedin; bringing total funds dispersed since mid-2018 to more than $2.5 million.


The Waitaki groups to receive funds from the Eco Fund are Penguin Rescue ($11,500) for improving yellow-eyed health through screening blood; Hampden School ($15,000) for “planting the seeds of ecosystems restoration” through a native nursery at the school; and Puketapu Community Trust ($49,780) for Waihemo Recreation Reserve regeneration.


Under the incentives funding umbrella - for planting after pest control, the Rotary Club of Ōamaru will receive $13,078.95 for Rotary Glen - a new native planting project in partnership with Observatory Village Lifecare on Department of Conservation land.


Also receiving incentives funding - planting for water quality, is a Maheno School native plants project, which was awarded $5000.


The successful recipients were chosen from 65 applicants, initially seeking a total of $2.7m - about three times more than what was available.


Council Environmental Implementation manager Libby Caldwell says the oversubscription again this year in-part likely reflects the ending of the Government’s Jobs for Nature funding which had supported many groups in past years.


“Oversubscription reflects the ongoing need in communities for these important funding streams,” she says.

 

“The wide variety of projects approved for funding is a great example of the ORC working in partnership with local communities around Otago, to improve and enhance the environment in many ways,” Libby says.


The Eco funding programme has been running since mid-2018, with the aim to support community driven projects which protect, enhance, and promote Otago’s environment.


Funds allocated since then now top a $2.58 million total, across 166 organisations.


ORC Eco Fund assessment panel chairman Alan Somerville says he’s delighted the ECO Fund and incentive funding programme has been able to support projects across Otago.


“Otago gets huge value from the Eco Fund. 


“Control of pests - sycamores, rabbits and possums - protects our natural landscapes and habitats. Native revegetation restores habitat and looks after our waterways,” he says. 


“Traplines and control of predators further helps our native animal populations recover.”


The Eco Fund goes “way beyond” ecological benefits.


“Communities know what matters most locally and the Eco Fund can empower them to turn those ideas into action. 


“Local groups throughout Otago build valuable knowledge and skills and strengthen their community connections. They put in a very impressive amount of work,” he says.


They also play an important part in educating their communities about environmental values and action.


“It’s especially pleasing that we have supported environmental programmes in three primary schools,” Alan says. 


“Those children can carry their attitudes of care for the environment into their adult lives.”


While the available funds were bigger than ever this year, ORC was still not able to fund all applicants.


“Thanks to everyone who took part. We’ll take what we have learnt from this round into a review of the fund and its processes, so we can make things work as well as possible for the environment and the people of Otago.”


Within all the funding there was a new one-off large scale biodiversity incentive fund of $300,000, which attracted 10 applications. Three applicants were recommended for the total $300,000.