Originally published in Inside Resources in July 2022: https://www.insideresources.co.nz/news/wildlife/123581/ogc-extends-bat-partnership-doc?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=inside-resources-newsletter

OceanaGold has signed a five-year partnership with the Department of Conservation (DoC) to expand on work funded with DoC as part of an original compensation agreement to continue predator control at Maruia on the West Coast to protect endemic long-tailed bats.

“That project has been so long-standing we have basically covered several generations of bats,” says Alison Paul, the company’s general manager for corporate and legal affairs.

OceanaGold’s five-year partnership will enable the department to expand work to protect long-tailed bats under Te Maruia Waka Huia – ‘the Maruia Treasure Box’ programme.

This integrated species programme has been designed to enhance biodiversity values at key sites within the Maruia Valley. At current state, the programme provides predator suppression through trapping over 4010 hectares targeting rats, stoats and possums.

The work under this integrated species programme provides protection to existing threatened species populations of long-tailed bats – Pekapeka – or Chalinolobus tuberculatus, black-billed gulls, South Island kaka and whio, using a combination of predator trapping and landscape predator control.

Expansion of work enabled through this partnership will strengthen existing infrastructure and increase predator protection for long-tailed bats over a further 348 hectares targeting rats, stoats and feral cats.

Knowledge

This partnership will also help DoC increase its current understanding of two long-tailed bat colonies, their size, structure, and recruitment, as well as the distribution of long-tailed bats throughout the Maruia valley.

A long-term objective for Te Maruia Waka Huia is to have consistently kept rat and stoat predator numbers in the Marble Hill area below 5 per cent. This could enable threatened species re-introduction at this site, which OceanaGold has agreed to support.

Maruia is a hotspot for the long-tailed bat, one of New Zealand’s two remaining indigenous bat species.

Unlike its largely ground-foraging distant cousin, the short-tailed bat, the long-tailed is an aerial insectivore, and part of a widely distributed family of bats, in Australia and elsewhere.

Scope

Once common throughout New Zealand, the bats started becoming scarce 100 years ago due to habitat loss and predation, mainly by possums, rats and stoats.

Today Chalinolobus tuberculatus is a critically endangered species. Conservation work focuses on Maruia, and areas such as the Eglinton valley near Te Anau, Fiordland, and Pureora forest west of Lake Taupō.

The department also uses free-standing “harp” traps to catch lactating females or new mothers, and then fit them with miniature radio transmitters to track them back to colony roosts and catch the roost to understand colony size, structure, recruitment and, over years, monitor population trends.

Globe Progress update

The closed Globe Progress open pit gold mine is showcased in OceanaGold’s sustainability report for 2021, published in late May.

At that stage the company had rehabilitated more than 131 hectares of 260 hectares of disturbed ground in Victoria Conservation Park.

That includes the planting of about 850,000 native seedlings across the site.

OceanaGold plans to plant an additional estimated 150,000 beech and mānuka seedlings by December 2023/2024, which is the scheduled end of the planting programme.

As well, the company planted 44,000 littoral species last year on the margins of Fossickers Lake, the former tailings storage facility, and Globe Pit Lake, the former open pit.

The company will plant a further 20,000 seedlings this year to complete these areas.

To date, 85 per cent of the disturbed area has been replanted, with just under 30 hectares left to re-establish.

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