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Conservation week captures the moment

Marine nature. Seals on the rocks at Cape Palliser. PHOTO/GRACE PRIOR

Although covid-19 has changed plans for the Department of Conservation’s conservation week this year, it is still encouraging people to take a moment for nature.

Conservation week will take place online next week from September 4 to 12,

Wairarapa senior community ranger Ronnie Anderson said she was gutted that DOC had to postpone events that had worked hard on.

She said many organisations and community groups had collaborated to organise a programme of events for Conservation Week in Wairarapa.

Anderson said they still hoped to hold the planned events in the future, “but in the meantime we’re organising a photo competition that will run during conservation week so that Wairarapa can still participate from the safety of their bubbles”.

“This year’s theme for Conservation Week is ‘take a moment for nature’, which handily enough can go ahead no matter what level we are in. Research shows that our health and well-being are improved when we connect with nature so we wanted to do something that will encourage people to do that.”

The great outdoors. Trees planted at Onoke Spit by Friends of Onoke. PHOTO/FILE

DOC director general Lou Sanson said the focus of conservation week had to change to reflect the changing covid-19 alert levels.

“Our health and well-being are strengthened when we connect with nature, which is so important at the moment.”

She said a New Zealanders in the Outdoors survey showed a clear link between mental and physical health and the outdoors.

The survey asked respondents to describe the key benefits of spending time outdoors. Mental health was the main motivation for getting outdoors for 41 per cent of participants. Physical health was paramount for 35 per cent, and 34 per cent cited a desire for connection with nature.

Sanson said getting away from everyday routine and reflecting was also considered important.

“Our team of rangers and fabulous community and iwi groups around the country had lots of great events planned, which we hope we will be able to hold at some point, but nature is adaptable, and so are we,” she said.

Sanson said DOC had come up with ways of making conservation week online engaging. Activities ranged from taking a virtual walk to find penguins and kakapo, to throwing on your hiking boots for a virtual great walk.

You could also join a citizen science project, listen to a “sounds of science” podcast, download a new nature wallpaper for your phone lock screen, or take part in a digital treasure hunt or daily quiz on the DOC website.

There are also at-home activities to try this conservation week, including cooking with nature using things in your backyard.

“It’s great to see a huge range of non-traditional nature connection activities for people to get their nature fix at the moment, and our thousands of walks, camps, and huts will be ready for you when it’s safe to return to the outdoors,” Sanson said.

Anderson said a competition would be held for Wairarapa on Facebook which would be quick and easy to enter.

There are also some great prizes up for grabs including Prezzy cards, children’s books and a family pass for Pukaha, she said.

The competition can be entered at Wairarapa to Pukaha to Kawakakwa’s Facebook page.

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