The Eastern Whio Link is a Gisborne-based group of hunters, fishers and farmers who are dedicated to looking after the endangered Whio, or Blue duck, population in the wider Gisborne area.
The group started with a population of just eight Whio in 2020 and in the last three years, the population has increased to eight times the size, now with 64 Blue ducks living in the Waioeka Gorge.
The group is led by Hamiora Gibson also known as 'Sam the trap man' who told REX host Dominic George stoats are the single biggest threat to the Whio population.
"They hammer out birds, take them on the nest, they take them on the river as well," he said.
The Eastern Whio Link has funded their work out of their own pockets or through independent fundraising events for much of their existence but has just been given the first biodiversity credit to help subsidize their efforts.
The CarbonZ Biodiversity Action Credit (CBAC) is a financial support system that assists conservationists and landowners in their efforts to protect and enhance the environment for native species.
Gibson said the new biodiversity credit system is a fantastic development in protecting the biodiversity of New Zealand and will make a massive impact on their work protecting the local Whio population.
"It's a really exciting space to be in and we see ourselves as looking after biodiversity on behalf of Aotearoa so it's great that so many businesses are keen to be a part of that picture through Carbonz and look after the biodiversity with us."
Additionally, CBAC offers an opportunity for individuals from various regions to participate in safeguarding local wildlife and bolstering native forests by purchasing CBACs.
While their group has been able to secure some support through local sponsors and some international hunting brands, this new system will allow them to continue to thrive.
"Now we've got to the size where we need that staff dollars to continue and that's where the Carbonz Biodiversity Credits come in. [sic]
"It means we can have people out there all day, every day on the hill, keeping those stoats in check and essentially breeding Whio."
Aotearoa currently has the highest proportion of threatened endemic species on the planet so, this additional funding and support for protecting and growing native animal and plant species provides an opportunity for groups like the Eastern Whio Link to ensure New Zealand's backbone of biodiversity stays strong.
Listen to the full chat between the leader of the Eastern Whio Link Hamiora Gibson and Dominic George above.