Wellington City Council’s Our Natural Capital programme, to protect the capital’s native biodiversity, is a winner in the Local Government New Zealand EXCELLENCE Awards.
The project, which has engaged thousands of Wellingtonians in predator control and threatened species protection, was named as winner of the Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact.
Now in their fifth year, the Awards recognise and celebrate the key leadership role that local government plays in communities around the country. This year saw the highest number of entries in the Awards’ history. Winners were announced at the LGNZ conference dinner in Christchurch on 16 July.
Our Natural Capital has seen the Council take a leading role in biodiversity management, including predator control, threatened species protection, community engagement and cutting-edge research into the challenges facing native wildlife in an urban setting.
It has resulted in more than 5,000 households now predator-trapping in their backyards, more than 120 community groups involved in ecological restoration and about 1,600,000 native plants and trees already planted.
Outcomes include a significant increase in native bird life in Wellington, including a 600 per cent increase in the kākāriki parakeet population.
Judges praised the programme’s strong community engagement and “well-defined measurable targets with a scientific basis resulting in excellent outcomes towards a predator-free New Zealand, aligning well with national priorities.”
LGNZ President Dave Cull said the project was successful due to its broad approach, not just at Council level but within the whole community, with businesses, community groups, households and individuals participating.
“Our Natural Capital, and all the EXCELLENCE Award winning projects, demonstrate a significant achievement and reflect strong leadership and the innovative work being delivered by councils across the country.
The winners and finalists incorporate best practice criteria from LGNZ’s CouncilMARK™ excellence programme which is designed to improve the public’s knowledge of the work councils are doing in their communities and to support individual councils to further improve the service and value they provide.
“Overall the judges felt that the strongest entries demonstrated a strong strategic focus, clear outcomes, measured results, cost benefit analysis and engagement with external organisations – particularly a collaborative approach with stakeholders, and meaningful engagement with iwi and Māori.”