Reconnecting Northland: Empowering communities to conserve Northland’s unique biodiversity

At a glance...

The client

Reconnecting Northland is a non-profit organisation that connects communities with conservation funding and resources.

The challenge

To help local Northland communities protect their diverse species and habitats through invasive species control.

The outcome

The community has an actionable management plan and the training to carry it out themselves.


Reconnecting Northland works with communities throughout Northland, to raise funding and provide support to conservation projects. They provide the resources and training to empower local community groups to carry out the mahi.

This model was inspired by similar successful projects overseas, and ensures maximisation of every dollar invested into the environment. Communities have the interest and passion to conserve their land, but often lack the tools and expertise required.

The ask

Reconnecting Northland is a non-profit organisation that strives to equip communities to protect and restore their land. They recognise that community health and wellbeing is deeply linked to that of their environment, and that only by working on shared goals and aspirations can both flourish.

“Reconnecting Northland see themselves as a connectivity catalyst. So their job is to bring together the environmental funding available from various bodies to communities that want to do conservation work on their land. Their idea is that if we can connect community groups with each other and this funding, they can maximise every dollar spent on the environment.”

Gary Bramley | Senior Terrestrial Ecologist, Ecological Solutions

Northland is home to some of the most biodiverse hotspots in the country. Residents are proud of the unique flora and fauna found there, and want to conserve it for generations to come. Gary Bramley has been working with Reconnecting Northland for a number of years, and also serves on their board. Most recently, he was brought in to help formulate a predator control plan.

“This particular Māori group owns large blocks of land. There’s a large forestry company operating nearby as well as numerous traditional farmers. So the land use there can compromise its rich and diverse ecology. The community wanted to protect two species in particular, as well as the area in general: the North Island brown kiwi and the local kōkako population. The latter of which is the last sustainable flock in Northland, so they hoped that pest control would facilitate population increase and expansion.”

Restricted by their capacity to undertake this specialist ecological work, they needed expert support. Reconnecting Northland asked us to step in.

“One of the first things that Reconnecting Northland do is connectivity planning. This involves bringing the community together to discuss their shared aspirations and how they’ll proceed. The group recognised that in order to carry out this pest control, they’d need a solid plan to take to a funding body. So that’s what they wanted from us.”

Why us?

Reconnecting Northland have worked carefully for years to build and nurture relationships with Northland communities.

“Because of the long history I’ve had both with Reconnecting Northland and working with other Māori community groups, they knew I could be trusted and that I understood the customs and expectations that would be part of a successful project.”
We were brought in for our ecological expertise, in-depth experience in management planning and application, local presence in Northland, and our reputation for working well with community groups.

Our solution

“I was invited to the marae to discuss directly with stakeholders how their land might be affected and what I’d need to do to prepare the plan. Fortunately, Northland was mapped out in detail in the 1990s so we had a lot of existing ecological information to go on. But we needed to verify a lot of that data and update it to put a robust pest control and management plan forward.”

After hearing the concerns of the community for ourselves, we were able to set about making a plan. We secured permission from landowners to survey their properties and verified the biodiversity data that existed about the area.

“Once we had the data we needed, we used GIS [Geographical Information Systems] to plot the network of trap lines and bait stations that we believed would capture the most possums, rats, and other pests in the area. We prepared a granular plan with application instructions for where to put them, how to use them, how often they should be set and checked, etc.”
Reconnecting Northland also sent community members on training courses to learn how to use the traps. A robust ecological management plan was submitted, and we are awaiting an outcome at the time of pubishing.

The results

The community group we were helping now has the physical capacity to protect their land with a thorough predator control plan, and the training to apply it. But this kind of work goes deeper.

“It gives people agency. They can take control of their own future. Māori people call this ‘mantu’.”

Empowering communities to proactively monitor, maintain, and even restore their natural environments is a great way to ensure long-term success. By protecting the health of their land, they can safeguard their own futures and that of their future generations.

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