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Major project to rejuvenate Abel Tasman National Park ecology

Date:  21 February 2012

An extensive 30-year multi-million dollar project to restore Abel Tasman National Park’s natural ecology is being launched with initial funding from a private family trust.  

The far-reaching ecological project aims to enhance native forest and wildlife over close to 80% of the 22,500-hectare park by 2042, the 100th anniversary of the park and the 400th anniversary of Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman finding New Zealand.

Project Janszoon is a partnership between the Department of Conservation and the Project Janszoon Trust, formed last December to support the Abel Tasman conservation programme with initial funding from a philanthropic New Zealand family which wishes to remain anonymous.  

Project Janszoon Director Devon McLean said the project was named after the middle name of Abel Tasman to symbolise restoring the ecological heart and essence of the park.

‘The Project Janszoon Trust wants the 2042 celebrations of the park’s 100th anniversary and the 400th anniversary of Abel Tasman’s visit to be a celebration of an outstanding conservation success story.

‘Abel Tasman National Park was chosen by the Trust because as one of New Zealand’s most visited national parks it is an ideal location to demonstrate the potential of a sustained restoration effort where many people can appreciate it.

‘Project Janszoon’s restoration programme will expand on the Department’s pest control and species recovery work in the park and that of the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust which we will also work alongside and support, including its wilding pine control programme.’

DOC Nelson Marlborough Conservator Neil Clifton said Project Janszoon’s long-term, large-scale approach would enable the tide to be decidedly turned against the introduced plants and animals that damage Abel Tasman’s natural landscape and wildlife so native species can thrive there again.

‘This is exciting for Abel Tasman National Park. We are extremely grateful to the Project Janszoon Trust and its donors whose tremendous generosity is enabling the launch of this outstanding project.

‘Currently more than 150,000 people visit the park’s coast each year. It is highly valued as an outstanding natural place for relaxation and recreation, and the thousands of visitors it draws makes it important to Nelson-Tasman’s economic prosperity. People’s park experience will be enriched by increasingly flourishing birdlife and lush, healthy forest thanks to the significant Project Janszoon and the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust.’

Project Janszoon intends to increase the abundance of native species still found in the park including kaka, bellbirds, tui, weka, Powelliphanta snails, northern rata and mistletoes. It also aims to return species no longer found in the park, including possibly great spotted kiwi, mohua, and sooty shearwater.

Project work is expected to get underway in March with systems being put in place to monitor pest and native species densities as a basis for assessing the progress of the conservation programme. 

An ecological restoration plan for the park is being developed that will incorporate control of introduced plants and animals, reintroductions of bird species either lost from the park or reduced to low numbers, and plantings of native species.

It is aimed to highly involve iwi and the community in the project and to carry out educational programmes.

Background

  • Project Janszoon has been divided in three distinct phases:
    1. Secure, 2012 to 2015 - through planning for pest control, baseline monitoring, planting projects, education and funding initiatives.  
    2. Restore, 2013 to 2023 - through pest control tasks, tree planting, involvement of schools and media communication.  
    3. Future proof, 2017 to 2043 - through education initiatives, park history being told and the establishment of an endowment fund to secure conservation gains made.
  • Project Janszoon Director Devon McLean is a Nelson-born businessman and former Chief Executive Officer of Carter Holt Harvey Ltd. He is Chairman of the Project Crimson Trust which in partnership with the Department of Conservation is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of New Zealand’s pohutukawa and rata trees.
  • The Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust is a partnership between Abel Tasman tourism operators, the community and DOC. It was set up in 2007 with the aim of preserving and enhancing the natural environment in and around Abel Tasman National Park. It raises funds for and undertakes pest control and other conservation programmes.
  • The Trust last year began a multi-year programme to control and eradicate wilding pines from the national park. The Trust has also worked with the Department in establishing and maintaining the park’s three main islands, Adele, Fisherman and Tonga, as predator-free wildlife sanctuaries. It has supported the reintroduction of robins to Adele Island as part of restoring its ecology.
  • Abel Janszoon Tasman was the first European explorer to reach New Zealand and on that 1642 visit he anchored off what is now the northern national park coast. His expedition’s encounter there with Maori was the first between Maori and Europeans.

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