Saturday, August 19, 2017
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Trapping help re-awaken silent forest

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When eco-tourism company Rotorua Canopy Tours began ‘ziplining’ tourists through 1.2km of forest canopy, adrenalin was only one aspect of their vision. Company founder James Fitzgerald wanted customers to gain a deeper appreciation of New Zealand’s natural heritage.

That core vision saw Rotorua Canopy Tours become the Supreme Winner at the 2016 New Zealand Tourism Awards.

“Right from the start our philosophy has been that the forest should benefit from our business,” says James. Operating in Dansey Rd Scenic Reserve since 2012, the company has reawakened a silent forest by protecting flora and fauna from invasive pests through the trapping of rats, possums and stoats. Today the Department of Conservation concessionaire has a world-leading 200 hectares trap network using Goodnature self-resetting traps that expands from beneath the 8ha zipline site.

“It’s been amazing to watch the forest respond to our trapping efforts,” says conservation manager Gary Coker. “The forest floor is alive with seedlings, the birds are thriving and we even discovered a rare skink that we didn’t know was present.”


Rotorua Canopy Tours, Goodnature and DOC staff show the haul of rats and possums from one night of trapping using Goodnature A24s and A12 self-resetting traps. 


Walk the talk

The model was simple. Channel tourism revenue into caring for the forest and engage zipline staff in conservation work on the ground, so that staff could walk the talk.

In 2015 James and Gary adopted Goodnature A24 Rat and A12 Possum traps. It allowed the company to trap a larger area more efficiently. “Using Goodnature traps reduced our network maintenance cost by 90 per cent,” says James. “That meant we could protect a far greater area.”

It wasn’t long before customers became completely compelled by their experience on the zipline tour. “People have been so inspired that they started giving unsolicited donations to expand the trapping network,” says James.

Trap network

In 2016 that culminated in Rotorua Canopy Tours and DOC establishing the Canopy Conservation Trust to manage donations and in the same year the trust doubled its Goodnature self-resetting trap network to 200ha.

Goodnature director Stu Barr says the success of Rotorua Canopy Tours is a perfect demonstration of why the Wellington-based company began. “We started design work on the traps 10 years ago because we wanted to be a leader in the recovery of our species, and key to that is enabling everyone in New Zealand to be involved in trapping.” Goodnature’s traps are equally effective around farm and home as they are in the bush.

Rotorua Canopy Tours and Goodnature are sharing a stand at the Mystery Creek Fieldays where visitors can learn more about their incredible story and enter some great prize draws.


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