INFFER takes a walk on the Wildside

August 12th, 2012 by geoff

This year, Les McNamara, formerly from the Office of Environment and Heritage in NSW and now with Landcare Research in New Zealand, will use INFFER to assess the costs and benefits of several species-based biodiversity conservation projects and programmes underway on Banks Peninsula, New Zealand. Les and his colleagues at Landcare Research will work closely with Marie Haley, Wildside Coordinator at the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust (BPCT), to learn how INFFER and other methods can support community-based conservation organisations in New Zealand in their efforts to conserve biodiversity

Banks Peninsula juts into the Pacific Ocean, southeast of Christchurch in the Canterbury region of the South Island.  The hilly, dissected landscape is dominated by cleared grazing land on the remnants of ancient volcanoes. Two large craters have been flooded by the sea and now form the picturesque harbours of Akaroa and Lyttlelton. As with other parts of New Zealand, introduced pests (especially cats, rats, stoats and possums) have wrought havoc and, except where they are actively managed, continue to decimate native plants and animals on the Peninsula.

The rugged southeast coast of the Peninsula has been affectionately dubbed the ‘Wildside’.  The Wildside is home to the largest conservation reserve on the Peninsula and many unique, threatened and iconic animals and plants including Yellow-eyed Penguin, White-flippered Penguin, Tui, Titi (Sooty Shearwater), Kereru (New Zealand Pigeon), Jewelled Gecko, Akaroa Daisy and Sun Hebe.

Yellow-eyed Penguin © Les McNamara 2012

Many farmers in the area have been voluntarily contributing their time, land and money to protect species for decades. In 2001, several landholders banded together to form the BPCT. The Trust is a non-profit community-based organisation that aims to promote sustainable land management and biodiversity protection on the Peninsula. It receives funding from the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Christchurch City Council, Canterbury Community Trust, Environment Canterbury (the regional authority), New Zealand Lotteries and others. Volunteers continue to play an important role in the Trust’s work.

Titi chick © Marie Haley 2012

By working with the BPCT to rigorously evaluate Wildside projects, we hope this research will help the Trust and other community-based organisations manage project risks, better understand technical and social issues that affect project outcomes, and design strategies, plans and projects that make a strong case for continued support from funding bodies. Lessons learned from the use of INFFER in this context will help Landcare Research identify opportunities for injecting rigorous and robust ecological and socio-economic evaluation in decision-making by community-based conservation organisations.

Akaroa daisy © Marie Haley 2012

The work is funded by a Landcare Research Senior Research Fellowship and by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. The project team includes Les McNamara, Chris Jones and Bruce Warburton in the Wildlife Ecology & Management team at Lincoln, New Zealand, working in collaboration with Marie Haley from the Trust. For more information, contact Les McNamara (

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