The Jobs for Nature scheme has provided $1.19 billion in Government funding over four years to benefit the environment.
Mitch Thorn (pictured above) is one of a team of five young people employed through the scheme by Christchurch City Council Parks as part of the Government’s COVID 19 recovery package.
“It’s been a hell of an opportunity, we’re really lucky I reckon. The Park Rangers have got a lot of work that needs doing and being able to have five field crew put the hours in and get stuff done on the ground has helped free them up to work on other projects that they wouldn’t normally have the time for, which increases the conservation gain from the wider team.”
Along with Mitch there’s Matt, Mackenzie, Hannah and Georgia. They’re all in their twenties and they all love what they’re doing, which fits with the ethos of the scheme – to bring people into nature-based employment and support skills training.
For 23-year-old Mackenzie the variety of her job is a real drawcard. Along with pest plant control and animal control there’s also planting, maintenance and habitat restoration on the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula.
“I was working at Bottle Lake as part of the restoration of the Burwood Landfill for eight months prior to this and there wasn’t the long-term satisfaction, whereas with this job you can see the progress and the impact you make. That’s what drew me in, plus it’s more conservation focussed rather than just restoration. Long-term I’d like to work in bird conservation and do bird banding, bird counts and monitoring.”
Hannah was a summer seasonal ranger at Bottle Lake Forest Park before starting with Jobs for Nature in February 2022. She loves working outdoors and sees a future for herself in some sort of conservation field work. “Everything I’ve been doing is quite new so I’m still learning all the different areas.”
Matt was also on a seasonal summer contract before starting and welcomed the longer-term position. He enjoys the wildlife side of things and has had a couple of opportunities with Council ecologists to do some skink monitoring and some bird counts around Lake Ellesmere.
“Long-term I want to work with wildlife in New Zealand. My wife is from Zimbabwe so eventually we might end up going there and I’d like to carry on doing conservation work.”
Head of Regional Parks Kay Holder says the Jobs for Nature staff have been invaluable.
“The scheme has provided the opportunity for 10 more staff to work in Christchurch Parks and natural environments across the city. Not only has this seen a great increase in plant and animal pest control, planting and maintenance, it has also given training and learning opportunities to people who will now be better placed to continue this important work.”