More Jobs for Nature!

1 Dec 2020 by Rosa Thompson

The Sustainable Business Network is continuing its work to create employment in nature restoration, with more funding from the Department of Conservation.

Another mammoth team effort has secured a further $500,000. This will be administered by SBN under the Government’s Jobs for Nature Fund. It follows an $800,000 allocation made in September.

So far we’ve created 54 short term full and part time roles. The new jobs are in seven of our partner community-based conservation organisations across Aotearoa. The new money means we can extend many of these roles beyond the holiday period and into next year.

Matthew McClymont manages this project for SBN. He says: “It’s great to see this extended commitment. Sectors like tourism have taken a hard hit from Covid-19. Anything we can do to soften the blow is valuable. There’s no denying that restoring our waterways and landscapes desperately needs more hands. And it needs large scale, long term investment. We’re hoping this is the beginning of a major shift. We’d like to see a continuing movement towards professionalising this nationally important work. It’ s been left to unpaid volunteers for too long.”

So far this initiative has enabled extensive planting, weeding and maintenance to be completed. It’s also enabled progress towards a new boardwalk at Bethells Beach, Auckland. When finished this will increase public access to Te Henga, Auckland’s largest wetland. It will give visitors a personal experience of the beauty and importance of these vital natural habitats.

Another partner initiative, Te Whangai Trust at Miranda, provides plant nursery-based training and education. Its main targets are the long term unemployed and those at risk in the community. The Trust currently produces more than 50,000 native plants a year. These are sent to restoration projects all around the region.

River replanting along the Whangawehi River, in Hawke’s Bay, has been able to add six new workers to its crews. Silverstream Reserve in Waimakiriri District, Canterbury is receiving a boost. And Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau/Sinclair Wetlands Trust has been able to recruit four new rangers. They are helping to enhance these wetland habitats through the control of weeds and pests. They are replanting native forest on the wetlands islands. And they are maintaining previous years’ planting.

Matthew says: “Ongoing funding is crucial to create genuine long-lasting employment opportunities for those impacted by Covid-19. This work is also increasing people’s awareness of their integration with nature. That goes for the workers themselves and visitors to these projects for years to come.”

Already SBN is hearing reports of how this work is assisting in unforeseen ways. For example, with additional funding The Waiheke Resources Trust is providing flexible employment for local workers on reduced hours. This has supported their livelihoods. And it’s helped keep local businesses running at lower capacity, rather than folding completely.

SBN is now in the process of applying for further funding to secure these benefits into the long term.