Birdsong Initiative aims to bring chorus back to Methven

Published: 30 November 2023

Methven Lions talk with the Methven Community Board about their Birdsong Initiative.

The Methven Community Board has been asked to support a biodiversity initiative aimed at bringing birdsong back to Methven.

The project has been proposed by the Methven Lions Club, whose members want to help co-ordinate trapping of predators so that birds can flourish and sing.

Lions Mac McElwain, John Corbett and Barry Maister outlined the Birdsong Initiative to community board members this week and said they were looking for endorsement, and funding in the future.

Mac said Lions and the community board could collaborate with the community board and Council on the project, which would not only restore birdsong around the area, but leave a legacy for future generations.

“We feel that having got it going, it will have its own steam and operate on its own, like the Mt Hutt skifield years ago.”

The Lions said they wanted to restore birdsong in Methven and along the foothills, where various groups were already trapping predators like possums, rats, hedgehogs and weasels.

Mac said all the groups involved needed people and some sort of co-ordination, and the service club was keen to help.

The Lions want to set up a trapping library so Methven people could access a trap to control predators in their back yards.

The initiative could also lead to a predator-free space within Methven town – the Lions see the Council reserve behind the Garden of Harmony as a potential site. It could also incorporate the historic Rangitata Diversion Race pipeshed that has heritage significance.

The sanctuary would need community buy-in and could only go ahead after community consultation, which could happen in the new year.

Funds are being sought from various sources for the initiative and the community board endorsed the project, without committing funds at this stage.

The project was likened to the Picton Dawn Chorus, which is bringing the birdsong back to Picton and surrounding areas, via a community trapping programme established in 2016 and mobilising hundreds of volunteers.

A free community workshop run by the Ashburton District Council, Department of Conservation, and the Methven Lions will be held on Thursday 25 January from 5pm at Mt Hutt Memorial Hall.  The workshop will cover ideas behind the Birdsong Initiative, discussion on available funding opportunities for pest control and how to set and manage trap lines within residential areas and farms.

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