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Bird banding to support local government biodiversity programmes and monitoring outcomes: a study of the South Island Fernbird in Nelson, New Zealand

David S. Melville1, Scott Butcher2, Paul R. Fisher3, Paul Griffiths4, Michelle Bradshaw5

11261 Dovedale Road, RD 2 Wakefield, Nelson 7096, New Zealand.,nz

231A Bay View, Atawhai, Nelson, 7010, New Zealand. scott.butcher@ncc.govt,nz

327 Lud Valley Road, Hira, Nelson, 7071, New Zealand.

48 Brooklands Way, Atawhai, Nelson, 7010, New Zealand.

558 Frost Road, Hira, Nelson 7070, New Zealand.

Regional councils are undertaking extensive habitat restoration and predator trapping programmes to meet biodiversity and national policy targets, with support from community groups and non-governmental environmental agencies and government funding. However, there is limited outcome monitoring of the success, over the course of projects, or once complete and whether key biodiversity species have benefited from conservation management. Nelson Birds New Zealand have commenced a banding programme to monitor the South Island Fernbird population in collaboration with the Nelson City Council and Department of Conservation.  The project involves colour banding the Fernbird population in the Nelson Haven Wakapuaka Flats Esplanade Reserve and Significant Natural Area, prior to introducing predator trapping across the 30-hectare coastal saltmarsh and scrubland. The distribution of banded Fernbird, and local movements of adult and juvenile birds have been recorded over the last year from retraps and resightings of colour banded individuals using digital photography and a citizen science survey app. The project highlights how little is known about the basic ecology of the endemic Fernbird and how this study can contribute to refining survey methodologies and improving conservation management outcomes.