DOC, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Otago Regional Council and local businesses are establishing a workforce group to pilot projects including refurbishing tracks, carrying out predator trapping and supporting wilding conifer control work.
“We know that Queenstown has been hit hard by the downturn in international visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” DOC’s operations manager Wakatipu, Geoff Owen says.
“The group will bring together people in need of work, initially from within the tourism sector, and prepare them for nature-based employment opportunities that are being identified across Queenstown and Wanaka.”
DOC has invested $250,000 from the Government’s $1.3 billion Jobs for Nature programme for the pilot. QLDC’s $70,000 contribution is sourced from the $1.4m labour redeployment funding recently received from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
“The pilot is still very much in its initial stages as we continue to collectively understand different complexities associated with redeployment. As part of the pilot phase we are not currently accepting expressions of interest from the community; once the pilot phase is complete we will be able to confirm further details,” QLDC recovery manager Steve Batstone says.
The goal is to redeploy approximately 30 people in the next two months.
The workforce group is another step towards creating a larger regional alliance of government agencies including DOC, Treaty Partner Te Runanga o NgƒÅi Tahu, businesses and the rural sector. This will foster collaboration and understand what the employment opportunities are in the region and stimulate investment in restoring nature.
“This project would not be possible without the expertise and hard work of local businesses to initially establish a small number of projects. This will show us how to best match people to a work opportunity in nature, and to ensure the work is undertaken safely and to the required standard,” Geoff says.
“Working in nature can be technical and strenuous, and made more difficult by terrain, and now by the onset of winter conditions and snow to lower levels.
“With increasing wilding conifer control on the horizon, this investment now will mean that a fit-for-purpose labour force, will be able to be deployed quickly when larger conservation projects in the region begin,” Geoff says.