Thursday, 18 April 2024 09:55

Planting natives for the future

Written by  Staff Reporters
Sustainability focus: Dairy farmers Josh, Bayley, Penny and Doug Storey are passionate about environmental initiatives on their farm and in their community. Sustainability focus: Dairy farmers Josh, Bayley, Penny and Doug Storey are passionate about environmental initiatives on their farm and in their community.

Te Awamutu dairy farmers Doug, Penny, Josh and Bayley Storey have planted more than 25,000 native trees on the family farm, adding to a generations-old native forest.

The forest includes kahikatea, totara, rimu, pōkākā and mataī and was fenced off 30 years ago to protect it. Doug says the farm has been in the family for six generations, and his parents John and Susan are also involved in the farm’s environmental work.

“We embarked on the sustainability journey because we want to connect even closer to the land and enhance the natural beauty of the farm,” Doug says.

“We want to keep eeling in the river and for future generations to play in the forest like we did.”

With help from native planting specialists Koroneiki Developments and volunteers, the Storeys have planted 2.5km alongside the section of the Mangapiko Stream running through their farm, and plan to plant another 1km. They planted around a wetland, which helps attract native birds and other wildlife.

The family have retired four hectares of land from farming to carry out more planting and have a pest management plan in place to help increase the bird population.

Doug is one of 400 environmentally focused farmers in the Dairy Environment Leaders network, created by farmers, DairyNZ and the NZ Farm Environment Trust in 2007. The network aims to empower leadership and create opportunities to support and share on-farm actions to reduce environmental footprint.

Doug’s son Josh and daughter-in-law Bayley help run the family farm and are passionate about sustainability and encouraging other young people into dairy farming.

“As farmers, we want to do our best to protect the land and enhance native wildlife, and love seeing tūī, kererū and other native birds on the farm,” Josh says.

The Storeys are involved in a Waipa district community project creating an ecological corridor linking two mountains – Mt Pirongia and Maungatautari. A key goal is to create great habitat for wildlife, including native birds and bats.

The Taiea te Taiao ecological corridor project sees farmers, iwi, community groups and organisations including Nestle, Open Country Dairy, Fonterra and industry good organisation DairyNZ working together. The work includes a range of environmental work across farms and other properties.

The Storey farm is a stepping stone for birds and bats to rest and feed as they travel along the corridor. “It’s a fantastic project and we’re excited to be helping boost biodiversity,” Josh says.

On the family farm and throughout the corridor, bat monitoring is underway and tuna/freshwater eels are being monitored using matauranga Māori methods. On the Storey farm, ecologist Britta Deichmann, has catalogued all the native trees, which Josh says will be a great record for future generations.

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