Beyond the Fence (BTF) started with one individual wanting to encourage others to ‘look beyond the fence’ of their own backyards. Now, a large group of volunteers work together with locals in their area to enhance their community so they can all feel safe and connected, and live in a beautiful, healthy landscape.
There are over 1250 properties in this Birkenhead/Northcote area on the North Shore, with a particular focus on the perimeter of the urban bush reserve of Le Roys Bush. Many threats to the health of the reserve come from these private properties that back on to the reserve. At least half of the neighbourhood’s biodiversity is on private land and includes the threatened Auckland Green gecko, kererū, banded kokopu and eels living in a forest, stream and wetland environment that connects the highest part of the North Shore with the sea.
BTF raise the profile of the need for weed and pest work on private land to increase the biodiversity of the reserve and in people’s own backyards. To do this they attend local events with information stands and displays, organise educational walks, host seasonal community festivals and help locals manage pests plants and animals.
Some of their most popular events include partnering with local community centre Highbury House to host a summer street party every December to celebrate and encourage community connectedness; and an event called Wine & Weeds where members of the community bring along weeds in for identification by the BTF team and get advice on how to control them. Neighbours then connect with other locals who have a common interest in improving their community.
BTF cluster groups that have coordinators and volunteers have also formed. The BTF team assists them with planning, developing appropriate weed strategies, weeding bees and encourages them to connect with other clusters to share their successes and challenges. They also have a range of resources and tools available to assist people to manage pest plants and animals.
BTF also runs a halo rat programme in conjunction with Friends of Le Roys Bush on private properties surrounding Le Roys Bush. Currently 55 properties in the area are controlling rats through this scheme and they intend to increase this number over the next year. They run this in “pulses” (for a number of weeks four times per year) – an effective way of controlling rat populations rather than continuous baiting.
More about how Beyond the Fence got started:
Supported by an Auckland Council Regional Environment and Natural Heritage Grant