Stoke Volunteers Working to Preserve Marsden Valley’s Biodiversity

Posted on 31 July 2023

The picturesque Marsden Valley, a vast expanse of natural beauty that adjoins the Brook Waimārama Sanctuary, has been facing challenges in preserving its unique flora and fauna due to the presence of invasive pests. In a joint effort to combat this issue, local Stoke volunteers have initiated a project to set up traps aimed at eradicating rats and mustelids from the area. Supported by Nelson City Council, this community-led initiative seeks to create a safe haven for native birdlife and restore the natural balance in the valley.

Unlike the fenced boundaries of the Brook Waimārama Sanctuary, the Marsden Valley is not entirely secure from the intrusion of pests. Despite the geographical divide, the birds from the sanctuary fly over and nest within the valley, necessitating action to protect these native species.

To bring their vision to life, Stoke volunteers – the Marden Valley Trapping Group (MVTG) - have been actively seeking assistance, both financial and physical. Funds raised are earmarked for the purchase of traps and their transportation up the valley for strategic placement. New traps will replace the temporary core flute traps previously used and are expected to be more effective in curbing the pest population.

Notable support for the project comes from NBS, a dedicated community-focussed financial services organisation. NBS has generously contributed financial aid to procure the traps, reinforcing their commitment to environmental conservation. Additionally, NBS staff members have actively engaged with the initiative through the NBS community day, where employees take paid time off to volunteer for local community organisations within the regions they operate in.

Three enthusiastic NBS staff members recently lent a hand, hauling a total of ten large traps up the challenging terrain of the valley. Walking the trap line was five hours of strenuous work and exemplifies the dedication of the Stoke volunteers in making a positive impact on the environment they cherish.

Howie Timms, General Manager, Commercial of NBS, expressed his admiration for the volunteers involved, stating,

"It’s tough and steep terrain, but a rewarding experience for NBS staff to make a contribution to the valuable mahi of this community group.”

Graham Pullyn, a Marsden Valley Trapping Group (MVTG) volunteer, also shared his thoughts on the successful event, "Thursday's event went really well – the first aid kit remained sealed, and no helicopters were required. Our party of six - one Mako, three NBS staff, and two MVTG members hauled 10 traps up to and on to the Blue Line – just below the ridgeline, making it a very worthwhile and appreciated contribution. I gather it was the first-ever NBS community day where staff were given time off to be involved in a community project, so it was a privilege for us to be the flag bearer for that." Graham further added,

"Feedback from the staff involved indicated they would be speaking very positively to their colleagues about the experience and recommending they take advantage of any opportunity to participate in the future. Tui, bellbird, fantail, and a robin all put in appearances, along with three rats (deceased), so it was a good introduction to why we're up there doing what we do."

This inspiring collaboration between Stoke volunteers, NBS, and other supporting organisations demonstrates the power of community-led conservation efforts. By working together, they are nurturing Marsden Valley's unique ecosystem and ensuring a brighter future for native wildlife.

If you are keen to get involved with the Marden Valley Trapping Group’s efforts, you can email for more information.

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