Jobs for Nature
In 2021 Puketi Forest Trust was the proud recipient of a Jobs for Nature grant from DOC. The programme has two very clear aims, firstly to increase the pest control work that we can carry out in the forest and secondly, to provide jobs, training and experience for local people to move into conservation work in the long term.
Jobs for Nature is a three-year project and we are now just over a year in. The project has presented a much greater challenge than the trustees initially appreciated; starting up a complex stand-alone enterprise like this from scratch takes a lot of work and requires special skills in organisational development.
The Trust went through a steep learning curve, the result of which has been a new organisation structure with two managers reporting directly to the board. We have three teams of four kaimahi and team leads working in the forest who are going through a training programme that not only gets them trained up for their time working for us in the Jobs for Nature project, but also gets them tooled up for a future as pest control contractors.
The Trust base near Rahiri is now set up for the project complete with a workshop equipped for building traps and the garage turned into a comfortable office. About 800 rat and stoat trap boxes have been made. Seven stoat and cat trap lines have been completed in north Puketi and are being serviced regularly. Rat and possum trap lines have been installed across the head of the Pukatea catchment and are advancing steadily to join up with the existing core area. The kaimahi are pleased and motivated by the large number of rats their new traps are catching.
All the extra organisation and recruitment (not to mention covid) has delayed the pest control expansion somewhat, but with a larger team than originally planned and by using contractors for some parcels of work, we intend to make up the lost time over the next year.