Project Janszoon is a private initiative working in partnership with DOC and designed to reverse the trend of ecological decline in the Abel Tasman National Park. Over time, we hope to deliver a remarkable new visitor experience for all who venture into the Park.
The initial funding for the core project is coming from a New Zealand family trust with an interest in making a difference in the restoration of key New Zealand environments. We have received other expressions of interest and hope to eventually create an opportunity for others to contribute to the Project.
The people behind this project have many philanthropic interests. They support projects that will make a demonstrable difference to NZ. Their interest is to see these projects prosper and that is all the reward they seek.
The Abel Tasman National Park has a significant anniversary in 2042. The Park will celebrate its 100th anniversary in December 2042. This year also happens to be the 400th anniversary of the discovery of New Zealand by Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer. Our goals are to transform the ecology of the Park by excluding or controlling the damaging agents, such as pest and weed species, and encouraging the return and success of key bird, plant and animal species. We want the 2042 anniversary to also be a celebration of an outstanding ecological success story.
The project area covers 19,130 ha. This area includes all of the coastal side of the Park, the islands off of the coast, the Foreshore Reserve and a portion of the Canaan Ecological Area outside of the Park’s southwestern boundary.
Working in conjunction with DOC and other interested parties, we plan to take action against the key drivers of decline in the Park, such as possums, stoats, rats and weeds. In five years we expect to have halted the process of ecological decline and to be measuring the improvements in survival and success of key indicator species that have been indentified.
There is still work to be done to confirm our initial views on the key indicator species, but we would expect them to include South Island Robin, Kaka, Kakariki, Weka, Green Gecko, Powelliphanta land snails, both species of Mistletoe and Northern Rata.
To be successful in such an ambitious project we will need to use all of the best practice control tools that are available. Detailed planning is underway to develop the best strategic approach to achieve our objectives and a detailed programme of work. Any control work will need to be approved through the normal consent processes and will be subject to stringent review. Both weeds and pests have been given free rein in the Park for many years. Achieving control of those agents will require the diligent application of the best tools and techniques available in the country.
We are working with other parties that are involved in successful control programmes on both private and public land to ensure that the practices adopted in ATNP are guided by the best strategies currently being deployed.
The Project has already established a commercial scale trial of the new resetting traps as part of our commitment to help develop and understand the new control technologies that are becoming available.
The wilding pine issue is being tackled by the ATBST under the guidance of Andrew Macalister. With the help of the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board and other donors, pines will be poisoned over a four year period, breaking the coning cycle. There will need to be at least two follow-up programmes to take out seedlings before they reach coning size.
Some localised weed species can be eliminated relatively easily using contractors tasked to deal with known infestations as listed in the park management plan.
Other widely spread species such as hakea and gorse will be addressed where their presence presents particular ecological risks.
Project Janszoon will support the existing ATBST initiative and make additional resources available as required to achieve the Project Janszoon and ATBST objectives.
DOC and Project Janszoon have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding which outlines how we intend to work together. DOC has many of the skills and expertise needed to carry out this type of project and will be contributing those resources. DOC will also continue to manage the visitor experience in the park, as well as the key relationships with neighbours and concession holders. At the end of the day, DOC is responsible by statute for the wellbeing of the Park, and Project Janszoon is here to lend a significant helping hand.
There are many demands on DOC resources across the country in a difficult financial environment. As a result, not everything that should be done can be done, and ecological restoration in this Park is one of those things which DOC is not able to fund at this time. However, DOC is very supportive of this initiative and has committed to provide knowledge, resources and expertise in support of the agreed programme of work.
The Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust is a wonderful example of the many community initiatives which make significant contributions to the enhancement of the New Zealand environment. ATBST is also somewhat unique, in that it combines the resources of community volunteers with contributions collected by concession holders in the Park. We are talking with the Birdsong Trust about the best ways to enhance what they are most interested in doing in the Park. We have very similar goals, but different capabilities, and we will work together to ensure that both parties are able to achieve their goals.
We actively engage in ongoing conversations with anyone directly associated with the Park. Over time those conversations will expand as we talk to other community groups and individuals about the work that is being done and opportunities to get involved. This also includes schools that have an interest in using the Park and Project Janszoon's work for educational purposes.
A process of consultation with local iwi is well-underway. We will be building on the excellent relationships that already exist between DOC and the tangata whenua as we work to restore the natural ecological balance in the Park.
In addition to animal and plant pest control, Project Janszoon is keen to develop educational opportunities by fostering specific educational projects through the existing outdoor education centres at Marahau and Totaranui.
Tree planting as a school and/or community activity is also possible once browsing animals are controlled to low levels. The planting of Northern Rata and other bird friendly species will help to accelerate the return of native forest species to the Park.
With healthier forests, more birds, and better information, the quality of the visitor experience will also improve. This will be good for visitors, for the economy and for tourism.
Hopefully this benefit will expand as we provide all New Zealanders with an opportunity to experience a thriving natural environment filled with native plants and animals - perhaps inspiring them to take similar action in whatever part of the country they call home.
The main control elements of the work programme will occur at times of the year when visitor activity is at its lowest. Those who live in or near the Park, and out-of-season visitors, will be kept informed of any activities that might impact them.
We expect people to be interested in this work and Project Janszoon will look to use websites, local media and direct presentations to keep people informed of progress.
Project Janszoon is about restoring the ecological heart of the National Park. Janszoon was the middle name of the man for whom the Park is named and therefore symbolizes that focus on restoring the essence of it.