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Community biodiversity projects doing well in Hawke’s Bay

Belinda Sleight

Community groups at grassroots level in Hawke’s Bay are playing their part in preserving and building our biodiversity, says Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay’s community facilitator.

Dr Belinda Sleight, who has been in the role since January this year, has begun meeting with community environmental and biodiversity groups, big and small, to assess what is being done for conservation in the community.

“I'm heartened by the people I've met who are passionate about their little patch of nature. We simply need to get more people involved in projects as we don't need one person doing things perfectly, but a whole heap of people doing things imperfectly.”

“Part of my role and the role of Biodiversity Hawke's Bay is building that momentum by getting people involved and then encouraging and supporting biodiversity projects at the grassroots level.”

Dr Sleight says many of the smaller groups are made up of people who live near the area they are trying to preserve and met while walking their dogs or through other activities.

While there is passion for the causes, the groups sometimes need organisational help, which is where Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay can be of assistance.

This could include applying for grants, networking, funds management, focus and community involvement.

She says that often groups had wish lists that are of a more practical nature.

“What often comes across is when I ask people about what sort of assistance they require, they have quite specific needs like more plants or getting water to their plot.”

“I also find that these groups are formed quite organically and there comes a point where they need to establish how they move forward. Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay can offer advice and guidance to help them achieve their goals and that shared vision.”

Dr Sleight says it is also important to tell groups about biodiversity success stories in their area.

“It is about motivating them through learning about successes and while we don’t want to be pushing people together for the sake of it, there may be some synergies and alignments that they are not aware of. “

Her role is also to raise awareness of Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay’s ability to act as a centralised hub for biodiversity in the region.

“It is building awareness and being accessible so that people can come in and talk to us about whatever they need.”

 “In general terms it is also about getting people to understand that what they are doing in terms of conservation is biodiversity in action.”

Dr Sleight says the small projects, from planting to trapping, are all making a difference in Hawke’s Bay.

“If people start thinking about biodiversity and native habitat and their role in that, whether it is proactive or not, then I think that is a gain. Small changes all build together eventually.”

If you have a biodiversity project, a group or even an idea that needs help and publicity, please contact Dr Sleight at community@biodiversityhb.nz.

19 April 2021

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