Environmental or conservation-based education plays a vital role in engaging and inspiring our community to take action in their own backyard. At Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary we believe that experience based activities capture the hearts and minds by engaging the senses - touch, sight, sound and smell. For our school or group visits it is about experiences beyond the classroom. Local students learn about the native plants and animals present on the Sanctuary and are involved in practical restoration of the Sanctuary.
We have an environmental education programme that can be tailored to suit the needs of school groups from kindergartens to secondary level.
This includes concepts like:
• New Zealand’s endemic/native species – animals and plants
• Food chains/webs and ecosystems – why these are important for biodiversity
• Succession processes in a native forest
• Threats to endemic/native species
• Conservation methods – translocations, monitoring, predator proof fences, trapping and tracking techniques
• Role of community groups in species conservation
One group, after visits to the Sanctuary and studying the pest-proof fence on Kaipupu, saw students build their own replicas of this high-tech barrier that stands across the isthmus between Picton Harbour and Shakespeare Bay. The real fence in the sanctuary is 2 metres high, built of stainless steel wire mesh, with a special hood on top to prevent jumpers and climbers like cats, possums, and stoats getting over, and a 'skirt' to prevent burrowing animals such as rabbits and rats from digging under it. The students models of the fence were made of wood, wire mesh and aluminium foil, and the design and construction of these models brought home the message of how hard it is to keep pests and predators out of the sanctuary.
Children from Picton school have been involved with a special seed collection and propagation project.The growing seedlings have been transferred to root trainers which are held in recycled styrofoam boxes gathered from the supermarkets. They have gown nearly 400 plants made up of Karamu, Manuka and Flax. They were planted out by the children at Kaipupu Point to help with habitat regeneration and supply food for native species.
The take-home message for the students is that free from browsing pests, and kept clear of invasive weeds, the native bush will regenerate vigorously in the future, helped along by these native seedlings.