SIRCET’s mission is to “pursue projects that will enhance both our community and environment”.
Halfmoon Bay Habitat Restoration Project
The Halfmoon Bay Habitat Restoration Project is SIRCET’s main project.
The project is about creating an open sanctuary in our extended backyard so that native wildlife can thrive. This pest management project extends from the township of Oban, Halfmoon Bay, out to Ackers Point. Volunteers are the backbone of this project, they are involved in trapping for animal pests, monitoring birds, weeding and re-vegetation work. This restoration project will ensure that our grandchildren will not need to visit a museum to see our treasured native birds, insects and lizards, but can live amongst wildlife as their ancestors did.
Objectives of the Halfmoon Bay Habitat Restoration Project
- To increase the native bird population around Halfmoon Bay by reducing predation and improving habitat quality.
- To provide a safe habitat for re-introduction and survival for Stewart Island species (both plants and animals) threatened with extinction.
- To increase the health of the forest around Halfmoon Bay.
- To educate and involve the community in conservation activities.
- To increase eco-tourism opportunities on the island.
- To help our community feel proud of its local environment.
- To help our children and adults learn about the environment and its protection.
The control of introduced pests in New Zealand is of vital importance to the survival of our native wildlife. SIRCET runs a pest control operation on a 210 hectare area in the Halfmoon Bay township. New Zealand’s wildlife evolved in isolation over the past 80 million years. This makes our flora and fauna both unique and vulnerable. Before humans arrived in New Zealand the only mammals here were two species of bat. The introduction by humans of mammals such as rats, possums and deer threatens New Zealand wildlife because our plants, birds, lizards and insects have not developed techniques of surviving alongside these mammals. New Zealand lost several endemic species to extinction before the seriousness of the threat was realised. Now, the control of mammalian pests is recognised to be essential to protecting our wildlife.
The Halfmoon Bay Habitat Restoration Project aims to protect and encourage the birds already in the township area, and eventually re-introduce those species that have disappeared from the area due to mammalian predators. To carry out its objectives, SIRCET carries out a pest control operation in a 210 hectare area from Golden Bay Road to Ackers Point.
Community Native Plant Nursery
The Stewart Island community nursery was set up in 2002 as a partnership between SIRCET, the Department of Conservation and Dancing Star Foundation.
The native plant nursery propagates many different native plants. It is a great resource for the local community, providing eco-sourced native species to replace weed species and restoration projects at Lonnekers Beach, Mill Creek and Harrold’s Bay. Plants are also available to local residents for an affordable donation. Increasing the presence of natives in private gardens provides food for bird species protected by other SIRCET projects.
Stewart Island and its surrounding islands are sites where nationally-significant threatened plant species grow. We are working on propagating a sustainable stock of these rare plants to reintroduce to key restoration sites, where deer and possum browse has led to these plants disappearing.
The Southern Rata is an iconic native tree that is especially vulnerable to possum browse. Project Crimson helps groups like SIRCET to protect and propagate rata and pohutakawa species. Thanks to the support of Project Crimson we have been able to raise seedlings to plant back into areas where possum numbers are being controlled. The nursery is a great resource of information for workshops on native propagation and weeds. The nursery relies heavily on volunteer support for the nursery, community members and visiting school groups give their time to propagate and raise seedlings.
The Environment Centre is centrally located in the Halfmoon Bay township. It is the first point of call for visitors to the island who want to know more about the local environment and about SIRCET’s projects. A great interactive and learning facility that appeals to people of all ages. Visitors can follow the progress of our Sponsor-a-Hectare (SaH) program on the SaH map.