The Friends of Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve has won a national award for its work to protect and enhance native plant life.
The group of volunteers scooped the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network’s (NZPCN) Community Plant Conservation Project category last month.
Under the leadership of chairman Warwick Silvester, they carry out working bees every month, involving weeding of pest plants, planting native trees and maintaining tracks and animal pest control.
The award recognises the work done by volunteers to restore the Pukemokemoke bush to become an excellent example of lowland forest.
This has culminated in the construction of a 400m raised boardwalk to combat the emerging problem of the root disease kauri die-back.
The boardwalk protects the kauri by reducing the risk of the soil-borne, footwear-transmitted infection by moving any foot traffic through the kauri stand away from the soil.
Mr Silvester is delighted the Friends have received national recognition for its work, but maintains that the real rewards lie elsewhere.
“To watch the way in which children value the experience and are learning about the environment at the reserve is something that we especially value,” he says.
“Our main reward is in the many happy faces of runners, walkers, picnickers and children who appreciate what a good piece of native bush can look like.”
Waikato District Council has supported the project by providing funding of about $20,000 over the past 18 months through its Community Wellbeing Trust and its Rural Ward Fund.
Waikato District Council Mayor Allan Sanson says the award is well deserved.
“The Friends of Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve do a great job to help protect a fabulous area of native bush in the Waikato District,” he says.
“We’re happy that we’ve played a small part in the group’s mission to restore and maintain such a beautiful and important reserve, popular with locals and visitors alike.”
The David Johnstone Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve is a 40ha remnant of lowland native forest located on the Whitikahu Road at Tauhei.