Bridgestone goes into bat for the kiwi
Bridgestone New Zealand has entered into sponsorship partnerships with two organisations looking after the country’s native flora and fauna, and its best-known bird in particular – the Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park and the Motuora Restoration Society.
Under a new sponsorship programme, Bridgestone will support the Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park by assisting in measures to assist New Zealand’s endangered national icon. Bridgestone will sponsor Rainbow Springs on an annual basis, with different projects being supported each year. In the first year of sponsorship it will do this by funding incubators, scales and other equipment for their Kiwi breeding programmes.
“It’ll be great having another incubator for more eggs to hatch in,” shared Claire Travers, Rainbow Springs’ kiwi husbandry manager. “Without the help of organisations like Bridgestone, kiwi could be extinct within our lifetime. By supporting the conservation work done by the National Kiwi Trust, Bridgestone are helping us grow the chicks up to a predator-proof weight – that’ll significantly improve their survival chances.”
Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park open in 1932 and is spread over 22 acres of parkland in Rotorua, in the country’s North Island. Rainbow Springs is a conservation and breeding haven for endangered species such as the kiwi and the tuatara, a reptile unique to New Zealand; Travers says that Rainbow Springs raisers over 100 kiwi chicks a year. The park allows visitors to see animals in their natural environment both during the day and night.
Another measure Bridgestone is undertaking to help the kiwi is its new sponsorship programme with the Motuora Restoration Society. Bridgestone’s relationship with the Motuora Restoration Society began several years ago and the company has already provided the organisation with both funding and volunteer support. As a result of this support, hundreds of native plants were established across the predator-free sanctuary of Motuora Island in the Hauraki Gulf, helping to create an environment in which kiwis have been released and are flourishing.
This sponsorship comes alongside continuing volunteer support from Bridgestone. With Motuora now 80 per cent planted, the Society’s focus has shifted to reintroducing native species that would have once inhabited the island. The current tree planting programme that Bridgestone’s sponsorship will support is for 5,000 pioneer trees and 3,000 canopy species trees per year. Canopy trees are planted beneath the existing pioneer trees to grow up and through them to create mature forest canopy.
Although Bridgestone staff volunteers have been involved in a variety of restoration tasks on Motuora, by far their biggest contribution has been to the planting programme. They’ve collected seeds, worked in the nursery raising plants and of course completed the job with winter planting. For pioneer species, seeds are collected, germinated, potted out and planted within a year. However, canopy trees require two or three years before they are planted, taking more nursery work and time as they need to be repeatedly re-potted into successively larger pots before planting.
Along with tree planting, another cost related to volunteer work on Motuora is the chartering of water taxi/ferries. For many years now the Society has charged all volunteers NZ$20 (£10) per adult for the return trip to the island; Bridgestone notes that this is much lower than the true cost, but it is an amount the Society does not feel it can exceed for volunteers. As a result, the Motuora Restoration Society subsidises the nine monthly volunteer trips by $1,800 per year. Bridgestone’s new sponsorship will assist with these costs and make it possible to get more helping hands across to the island.
Ray Lowe, chairman of the Motuora Restoration Society, is very enthusiastic about the new sponsorship partnership with Bridgestone: “It’s fantastic to see Bridgestone continuing its supportive relationship with us in this new way. The sponsorship will be a big help in getting more trees planted, more native birds and lizards reintroduced and a much more authentic natural environment created on the island.”