It was Stephen Tindall’s desire to get more people engaged in conservation and sustainable land use in their own communities that led to The Tindall Foundation’s decision to launch and fund a long-term Reconnecting Natural Northland project to restore natural habitats across Northland.

After seeing some of the innovative ways other countries were working to restore their environments, Foundation Manager Trevor Gray said that trustees were very supportive of finding new approaches in New Zealand.

“Our Trustees felt the existing ‘pepperpot’ approach of funding discrete groups, projects, or causes was not achieving the broader level of impact needed to arrest the overall decline they perceived was occurring.”

In particular, the “Large Landscape Connectivity” approach in Australia and the United States looked promising.

“Connectivity conservation, or large-scale landscape restoration, uses a holistic approach to ‘reconnect’ the landscape,” says Project Manager David Mules. “It seeks to make space for nature, while including sustainable human uses of the land.”

After several local environmental organisations were invited to join discussions, the World Wildlife Fund and Landcare Trust put their hands up to lead a pilot project.

Identifying Northland as the ideal place to start, they applied to The Tindall Foundation, ASB Community Trust and others for funding to introduce it to Northland over a five year period.

Trevor said that over a six year incubation period, The Tindall Foundation contributed more than $100,000 in direct expenses, consultation and consultancy costs, aside from staff time and expenses. It has since committed another $1.5 million in principle for the five year implementation phase.

“This gives some idea of the amount of time and money that is required from funders to help work up an innovative and collaborative new approach – even prior to a formal project application being considered.

Even with about $2.5 million committed from the two funders over five years, and negotiations underway with a third, it is just the start.

“This is a transformational programme that is likely to be inter-generational in nature, over the next 20 or perhaps 50 years,” says David.


The project seeks to reconnect:

• Fragmented habitats and isolated populations of species

• Large-scale ecological and landform processes

• People to nature, strengthening kaitiakitanga and stewardship

• Communities, through working together towards a shared vision

Read more about this project om page 8 and 9 of Philanthropy New Zealand’s newsletter