Halo Project - May Update
The Halo Project has undergone some changes to the team recently. Big thanks go to Sophie Penniket, who has just finished up and heads away for a new challenge – being a mum! Like Sophie, Matt Thomson has been a Halo stalwart. Matt is pursuing other environmental work in the Otago region. A big thanks to Matt and Sophie for their commitment to the project over these formative years.
The project has also made three recent appointments. Jonah Kitto-Verhoef as Halo Predator Free Operations Manager. This follows a move back south after a five and a half year stint on Waiheke working on a variety of projects including the establishment of PFD’s sister predator-free project, Te Korowai o Waiheke. Kate Tanner has recently made a move across the harbour into a role as Halo Predator Free Coordinator, with a strong focus on volunteer management and activation. Sanjay Thakur has recently moved back from Te Anau after several years working on landscape-scale predator control programmes for DOC, protecting some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable species such as takahe.
The Halo team has been busy behind the scenes refining and developing new working processes to ensure they are organisationally equipped for this operational expansion, and reviewing existing programmes and developing the framework which will guide the Predator Free work over the next few years. Development of the online predator data-collection portal has also continued, creating a more functional and usable tool.
The project team is now tracking towards completing the rollout of predator management across the initial ‘Inner Halo’ (3900 ha). This involves work in residential areas with backyard traps for possums, stoats and rats, and in rural and forested areas the deployment of stoat traps. The possum knockdown work being led by OSPRI and its contractors is well underway and will be expanding through the project area over the coming months. OSPRI contractors, High Country Contracting, are delivering possum control operations on Flagstaff, their contractors battling the difficult terrain and vegetation as they uncover the high possum populations.
From July, the Halo Project will begin to rollout predator management in the Heywards sector, moving towards Aramoana from Purakaunui and Deborah Bay. This is an exciting time gearing up to extend the Halo, especially given the increasing reports of biodiversity gains such as the spread and frequency of robin sightings outside of the Orokonui fence.