Auckland golf courses being replanted to help native birds flourish

6:14 am on 28 February 2024
The Grange, in Papatoetoe, is on its way to becoming a conservation oasis.

The Grange, in Papatoetoe, is on its way to becoming a conservation oasis. Photo: Anna Loren/Stuff

Five golf courses in South Auckland are part of a transformation project to make the green spaces biodiversity havens and attract more native birds.

Clarkes Beach, Awhitu, Pukekohe, Royal Auckland and Grange, and the Windross Farm golf courses are among 22 courses being transformed into vibrant hubs for community conservation.

Auckland Council senior partnership specialist Izabela Joshi said the transformation included the replanting and replacement of native trees and shrubs to encourage native birdlife.

Some golf clubs were already shifting from chemical to natural greenkeeping practices, and reusing greywater on the course, diverting it from the sea.

"Our ultimate goal is to see all of Auckland's 36 golf courses join this initiative," Joshi said.

The idea was to have people walking the green pathways and connecting with the natural beauty of their surroundings, Joshi said.

"We hope to see more collaboration with the communities surrounding those green oases."

The Grange golf club in Papatoetoe has already received its ecological enhancement plan, and work was underway on delivering it.

Twenty-two golf courses in Auckland will soon be transformed into biodiversity havens.

Twenty-two golf courses in Auckland will soon be transformed into biodiversity havens. Photo: Chris McKeen/Stuff

Joshi said the ecological enhancement plan was a five-year road map for the conservation needs on land, funded by the council's natural environment targeted rate.

Clubs fund the conservation efforts themselves, often supported by conservation groups, schools, businesses and their members.

She said clubs were guided and supported to deliver further conservation outcomes.

"Council and the golf industry collaborate to ensure the 1800 hectares of land dedicated to the golf in the region is under the right conservation management.

"Council provides its expertise and advice, and connects the golf clubs with the local conservation community groups and iwi to maximise the efforts golf clubs put into conservation and regeneration of their land."

Joshi said Pupuke Golf Course in the North Shore was a perfect example of a course transformation.

They were working towards a GEO accreditation - a global recognition for golf courses demonstrating exceptional environmental and social responsibility.

Pupuke general manager Matthew Owen said it was a continuous process, and they were 84 percent there, "but we're always looking at what we can do to improve".

"We have been working with the Bush Society and council to select the best plants and their position in the park," Owen said.

"As a result, we have been able to reduce the erosion on the course caused by extreme events."

Volunteers have planted 2000 native trees and shrubs, which has seen native birdlife flourish, and they've shifted from chemical to natural greenkeeping practices.

Joshi said the dedication of Pupuke to inclusivity extended beyond physical boundaries.

"They are committed to working with their community and stakeholders to maximise every aspect of their operations, from the course itself to the club facilities, membership, and community engagement.

"In the immediate future, they are partnering with Watercare to reuse greywater on the course, diverting it from the sea - a win-win for Pupuke, the environment, and the public."

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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