The Brook Waimarama sanctuary is now teeming with birdlife. Photo: Supplied.

Brook sanctuary to re-open this month

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Nelsonians will soon be able to experience a revitalization of fantails, tui and tomtits in the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary as it opens to the public after a year of pest removal and monitoring.

In 2017 it was closed to make way for three drops of a total of 26.5 tonnes of brodifacoum-laced bait within its 14km pest-proof fence. There were numerous legal challenges and protests along the way from concerned locals.

However, now the sanctuary’s vision is almost complete to eradicate rodents and reintroduce native wildlife into the 690 hectare piece of land.

From July 15 the sanctuary and visitor centre will be open every Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10am to 4pm for its winter hours.

“We have been looking forward to welcoming people back to the site and we know how keen Nelson and Tasman residents have been to start enjoying the Sanctuary again,” says trust chair Dave Butler.

At its recent Long Term Plan deliberations, the Nelson City Council agreed to provide $250,000 in 2018/19, followed by $150,000 each year, for ongoing operational support.

Council received close to 90 submissions in favour of the funding for the sanctuary, reflecting its wide volunteer base and strong community support.

“Our community is so key to what we are trying to achieve here, so we are thrilled to be able to welcome the public back after our closure this past year.”

Dave says so much has changed since it was last open to the public. Its pest removal operation last year was followed by months of intensive monitoring.

“Visitors will now get to experience a very special place – a site where native bird species are beginning to recover from daily predation by mammalian pests.”

The sanctuary’s monitoring has shown initial gains already in the populations of species such as fantails, tui and tomtits.

It will be opening on a koha basis initially, with a suggested donation of $5 per adult or $15 per family, to support the ongoing work of developing the sanctuary.

Sanctuary general manager, Hudson Dodd, says that the development of the sanctuary will be ongoing. “We’ll be continuing to develop exciting ways for visitors to experience the sanctuary.”

This will include extending and developing the track network, as well as making a wheelchair-friendly loop track.

“We also have very exciting work underway to plan our first species reintroductions, returning birds such as kiwi, kakariki and kaka back to the valley where they were once abundant.”

Hudson says that the sanctuary is building toward a future as a significant visitor attraction for Nelson with paid admission.

Bio-security is now the sanctuary’s priority, to protect the native wildlife. Visitors will be asked to check their own pockets and bags before entering to make sure there are no stowaway pests.

“It may sound unlikely, but it really can happen,” said Hudson.