15.6 What can you do to help?

There are several things you can do to protect and enhance biodiversity in Northland.

At home:

· Be a responsible pet owner. Domestic dogs and cats can be major predators of a number of native species including kiwi. Dogs should be kept under control at all times and not allowed to wander. Keeping cats well fed and inside at night will help to reduce the impact that they have.

· Be a responsible gardener. There are approximately 2430 wild exotic plants in New Zealand, nearly all of which are ‘garden escapes'. This is now greater than the total number of native vascular plants. It is estimated that around 10% of plants introduced to New Zealand go wild and some become serious pests. The best way to prevent gardens from being a source of weeds is to grow plants that will not become pests. Copies of ‘The Good Plant Guide', which will help you choose plants not harmful to people and the environment, are available from Regional Council offices.

· Carry out pest and weed control on your own property. NRC publishes a range of information sheets covering control of a number of animal and plant pests. Regional Council biosecurity staff members are also available to offer advice. Information sheets are available from Council offices or can be downloaded from the Council website.

· Group of Landcare members digging out weeds.Find out the value of what you have on your property. Regional Council land management staff can help to identify native species and weed species and will give advice on how to best protect what you have.

· Get involved with a Landcare group near you. The success of Landcare groups in Northland is due to the power resulting from many people cooperating together, including achieving outcomes and gaining funding, all of which leads to enhancing Northland's biodiversity.

On the farm:

· Protect important areas from stock. Grazing stock have a major impact upon the understorey of bush areas and limit regeneration. Fencing bush remnants, wetlands and the edges of waterways protects these areas. Certain weeds may become a problem once stock are excluded; determine what weeds are present prior to fencing and plan how you will manage these weeds.

· The use of nutrient budgets and nutrient management plans can help to reduce the detrimental impact of nutrients lost to waterways as well as providing economic benefits to the land owners.

· Covenant your special areas. Covenanting offers an opportunity to provide long term protection to an area, irrespective of who owns it in the future.

· Develop a restoration plan. Putting a plan in place before embarking on a restoration project will greatly increase the odds of a successful outcome. A self-help kit ‘Restoring the Balance' has been developed for Northland. This kit is useful for individuals and groups embarking on biodiversity protection projects. It is available free of charge from NRC or the New Zealand Landcare Trust.

More information on biodiversity enhancement and weed and pest control, including brochures, fact sheets and knowledgeable staff, are available at the Regional Council offices or by phoning the Council on 0800 002 004.