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Backcountry huts to be restored with Jobs for Nature

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced a $2 million expansion of the Backcountry Trust’s programme to repair and maintain huts, tracks and bridges in some of New Zealand’s more remote places as part of the Government’s $1.3 billion Jobs for Nature programme.

The Backcountry Trust has a long-term partnership with DOC to help maintain our nationwide network of backcountry tracks and huts.

“This funding will allow the Trust to build on its volunteer successful programme by contracting skilled workers to carry out specialised work such as building, roofing, and track cutting alongside Trust volunteers, and to cover costs such as helicopter services to transport materials and work crews,” said Eugenie Sage.

Yesterday the Minister of Conservation went to the East Matakitaki Hut in Nelson Lakes National Park and met with river guides from Murchison are being employed to replace the roof, paint and restore the hut.

“The work to remove lead from several huts in kea and kākā habitat will reduce the risk of kākā and kea getting lead poisoning, which is a huge benefit for conservation.

“The Trust and its volunteers and paid contractors do an incredible job. The Trust has supported the restoration of more than 100 huts around Aotearoa and the upgrading of more than 900kms of track.”

“The track work carried out by the Trust is important for pest control work associated with Predator Free 2050, because it creates access to trap lines for both volunteers and DOC in places like the Ruahine Forest Park (for whio and kaka habitat protection).”

Approximately 108 contract jobs will be created through the Backcountry Trust, targeting areas where the downturn in tourists due to COVID-19 has had a major impact on the local economy, including the West Coast, Canterbury, Wanaka and some North Island areas.

Murchison rafting company Ultimate Descents, which has been mothballed because of COVID-19, is one of the businesses to benefit.  Its staff have been employed by the Trust to work on the East Matakitaki Hut, repairing the roof and chimney, and repainting the hut.

The Government’s $1.3 billion Jobs for Nature programme aims to provide nature-based employment to revitalise communities impacted by COVID-19, while controlling pests and weeds, restoring wetlands and returning native bush, rivers and streams to health.

In addition to the Jobs for Nature funding the Minister announced $179,040 from the DOC Community Fund for the Kea Conservation Trust to support kea conservation across the South Island.

“Kea are the world’s only mountain parrot and these intelligent and playful birds are extremely curious.

“Research, monitoring, and advocacy work by the Kea Conservation Trust helps ensure people better understand the threats to kea, reduce those threats and encourage people to interact appropriately with these fascinating birds,” said Eugenie Sage. 

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