Saving native bats at Hautapu in time for Halloween

3 MINUTE READ

The rare species hanging around our site in the Waikato.

October 31st is just around the corner and while bats are symbolic for the spooky season we call Halloween, it’s not the reason they’re important to Fonterra.

Some of our Hautapu team got a fright when they discovered rare long-tailed bats roosting in trees on our Co-op-owned Buxton farm which helps irrigate wastewater from our Hautapu site in Waikato.

DOC Long-tailed bat. Credit: Colin O'Donnell

The long-tailed bats (pekapeka) are a native species and recognised as ‘nationally critical’ - the same status as the Kākapo and NZ’s highest threat ranking. The Department of Conservation, describes them as “in danger of extinction in the medium term if nothing is done to reverse their population declines.” They (along with the native short-tailed bat) are also New Zealand’s only native land mammal.

Their vulnerability prompted the decision by our Co-op to help save them and our teams have since consulted with local stakeholders including mana whenua Ngāti Hauā and Ngāti Korokī Kahukura, Waikato Regional Council and the Department of Conservation on how best to protect and enhance their habitat. The project includes an animal pest control plan to help the breeding success of the bat population.

And funding received from the Sustainable Catchments programme will see around 4,000 native trees planted during community planting days planned for 2021. The old Buxton farm dairy shed will be converted into a native plant nursery.

The team is really looking forward to getting involved and working with others in the community to help save the native bats, it’s important that we protect and enhance the area around the blue gum trees that they call home.

doug dibley, farm operations manager, fonterra central north island

Fonterra Central North Island Farm Operations Manager, Doug Dibley, says the restoration project will ensure the area on Buxton farm, which has now been declared ecologically significant by the Waikato Regional Council, maintains its indigenous biodiversity.

“The team is really looking forward to getting involved and working with others in the community to help save the native bats, it’s important that we protect and enhance the area around the blue gum trees that they call home.”

The project to help save the pekapeka is a demonstration of our Co-op’s commitment to sustainability. It’s important because 79% of New Zealand’s native land vertebrates have been classified as threatened with or at risk of extinction. And it’s a problem the world over - the United Nations estimates that around 1 million animal and plant species are at risk of disappearing.

For more on what we are doing in the sustainability space, keep an eye out for our fourth annual Sustainability Report due out next week.