Canopy Conservation Trust
Tourism restoring nature
The Canopy Conservation project is committed to transforming the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve into a pest-free environment.
In 2012 the spectacular native forest Rotorua Canopy Tours operate in was silent. It had been overrun by possums, rats and stoats which had killed almost every bird in the area and decimated the surrounding eco-system.
Rotorua Canopy Tours began restoring this pristine environment so our native bird chorus could return. We have spent over $250,000 so far and created a 35km trapping network using world-leading technology to successfully remove thousands of introduced pests.
This forest is now thriving – the birds have returned along with other rare, previously undiscovered, species.
The Canopy Conservation Trust is a charitable trust and a joint initiative between Rotorua Canopy Tours and the Department of Conservation. Together we’ll continue to eradicate pests from this slice of pristine forest and help restore the natural eco-system to its former glory.
Canopy conservation project timeline
2012: How it all began
Rotorua Canopy Tour opened its doors in 2012 and the journey began.
While building the zipline founders, James and Andrew grew more and more aware of the deathly silence in the forest. This was a native forest that should be filled with birdsong!
They knew there was a problem and made a promise to return this forest to a prehuman state so everyone could experience what a native forest in New Zealand should be.
How big was the problem?
We knew pests were around so we decided to monitor the forest to determine the extent of the problem.
We placed ‘chew cards’ (corrugated plastic smeared with peanut butter) along tracks we cut through the forest. The cards are designed to record animal bite marks so we could tell what pests were around.
When we returned the following day, all the cards were completely obliterated. These results told us there were rats and possums everywhere! Pest-control measures couldn’t come a moment too soon.
2013: Phase 1
After running the zipline tour for a year we had saved up $35,000 which was enough money to get started on their conservation dream.
‘Phase 1’ of the conservation project concentrated on a 50ha section of the Reserve, directly around the zipline course.
1100 traps were placed into the forest in August 2013 including rat, mouse, and possum traps with incredible results, and hard lessons learnt.
Problem solved – Goodnature
Our original labour-intensive method of trapping pests wasn’t a viable long-term solution, so we went back to the drawing board.
In 2015 we found the answer we were looking for! We began trialing gas powered self-resetting traps produced by a Wellington company called Goodnature, and the results were promising.
What’s cool about these traps is they re-set themselves.
2015: Canopy Conservation Trust is formed
In June 2015, thanks to the great results we’ve already achieved and the growing level of support, we decided to approach the Department of Conservation in 2015 about establishing a formal partnership.
Fortunately, they were all for it! And so the Canopy Conservation Trust was born.
2015: Phase 2
Armed new technology from Goodnature, we installed 450 self-resetting rat and possum traps and widened our pest control area from 50ha to 100ha during phase 2 of our conservation project.
In total we spent 300 hours cutting 22km of trails through the forest as trapping lines. And during a subsequent three day blitz we caught over 700 introduced pests!
2016: Rare lizard spotted spotted at Canopy Tours
We’ve got some great news – we have spotted and photographed one of New Zealand’s least known and rarely seen lizards – the Striped Skink on one of our Eco Tours!
2016: Phase 3
Rotorua Canopy Tours guides fought their way through the dense native forest cutting and marking trapping lines.
October 2016 after months of hard work the Rotorua Canopy Tours team implemented phase three of their conservation project.
Goodnature automated A24 rat traps were installed every 50 meters and A12 possum traps every 100 meters throughout the 7 km of prepared trapping lines.
2017: Phase 4
In June 2017, we completed Phase 4 of the Canopy Conservation Project.
We now have 250 hectares of the forest under trapping control, meaning that the entire southern side of the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve is now a safe haven for the wildlife that calls this forest home.
2017: Rehabilitated ruru released
October 2017 – Rotorua Canopy Tours and Wingspan joined forces to release a rehabilitated ruru into the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve.
Releasing a protected, native bird back into its natural habitat is such a special occasion. The team at Rotorua Canopy Tours were ecstatic to have a ruru release in the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve, home of the Canopy Tour. Ruru (morepork) are the only living native owl in New Zealand, known for their distinctive “Morepork” call.
Conservation Project Stories and News
Two new species discovered in Rotorua forest following trapping efforts
13 Oct, 2021 – Experts have confirmed Rotorua’s Dansey Road Scenic Reserve is now home to two undescribed species. Read more.
long-tailed cuckoo makes long-awaited return
13 Jan, 2020 – A large native bird with very particular nesting habits has begun returning to Dansey Scenic Reserve. Read more.
Nothing to be blue about
9 May, 2019 – Werewere-kōkako mushrooms spotted in Rotorua scenic reserve. Read more.
Want to become part of our conservation journey?
Since 2012 every guest that comes on a Canopy Tour contributes to our conservation projects as a portion of the ticket price goes back into the forest restoration.
The forest is flourishing, and the transformation of the native eco-system has been incredible!
If you would like to donate to the Canopy Conservation Trust, we would love to hear from you.