The Forest Hill foundation Trust works in partnership with te Taiao on our Biodiversity Project in Ōtewao. Although this project is being overseen and supported by te Taiao, the progress being made in the area is largely due to the efforts of the trust and their contractors Leith Contracting. To find out more about the Forest Hill Trusts mahi click here.
The idea of the Forest Hill Foundation Trust was born in 2002 and formally constituted in 2005. Their vision is to make Forest Hill an ecological island by “removing all introduced mammalian pests and predators from the Forest Hill Scenic Reserve and restoring the forest to a healthy diversity of indigenous fauna, many species of which have not been seen in the area in our lifetimes.” Originally The Trust was set on erecting a 15km predator free fence around the area, however unfortunately local landowners and financial barriers led the group to focus on intensive trapping of the reserve to keep pests at a manageable level. Nevertheless, The Trust still has aspirations of a predator-free fence in the future.
The Forest Hill Trusts’ achievements in monitoring and trapping predators, despite spasmodic funding, are worth significant celebration. By 2015 they had installed 400 bait stations to trap hedgehogs, cats, rats and mustelids. And, in 2020, via community funding efforts, The Trust started planting self-setting A24 traps to help prevent pests in the Northern block where a rare Wētā was discovered. Additional efforts include recording bird counts and completing an invertebrate study in the reserve. Their achievements were formally recognized by the 2018 Environment Southland award ceremony for “Environmental Action in the Community.” However, the greater reward was being informed by the many people who utilise the reserve that the birdlife is returning.