Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) has been an integral part of our thinking since we first began. As guardians of mānuka, we nourish the land, care for the environment and tend to our mānuka forests – working in harmony with bees and nature.
Our mānuka regeneration programme restores the land back to how it was. We return grass areas back to what nature intended, supporting the acceleration of returning the land to its natural state.
As one of New Zealand's largest private forester (Trees that Count), we have planted over 6.2 million mānuka seedlings and continue to commit to planting a further 2 million trees each year.
We plan to plant millions of trees, over thousands of hectares - leaving them to grow and mature, undisturbed, creating an ideal environment for nature to step back in.
We already know our mānuka forests positively support natural ecosystems by providing local fauna with an undisturbed home to flourish, helping the land to heal, and allowing companion natives to bloom. We have more work to do though, in order to understand the biodiversity impact of our forests. We will do this through research and establishing science-based biodiversity targets.
HOW ARE WE TRACKING?
We have planted millions of trees, providing a habitat for bees and nature to thrive, as well as removing over 37,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere since the start of our regeneration programme.
We have invested in biodiversity research projects on our Makino Station to identify terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity.
We now have over 8,730 hectares under predator management across our New Zealand mānuka forests, and this will grow each year.
We've joined forces and invested in conservation partnerships to make a positive impact on nature in need.
We have activated our kiwi protection programme at Makino Station to support a safe habitat for kiwi - with over 200 traps already in place - that's about 28km of trap lines.
We've placed 200 hives in the wildlife corridor in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya as part of our Saving the Wild Beekeeping Project.
We have set 1,100 wasp traps in the Hawkes Bay region (an estimated 1,708 hectares) to help eradicate wasps.
As part of our planting programme, we aim to enhance the natural ecological balance and biodiversity of our mānuka forests. Underway we have a key research project in partnership with University of Auckland funded by Callaghan Innovation to assess the ecological impacts of mānuka forest planting.
Detailed case studies are being undertaken to compare mānuka plantings at different stages in development and assess biodiversity at our mānuka forest sites. The findings will help us measure and track the abundance and diversity of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates as well as the presence of key insectivores.
To date, the work has also identified the presence of multiple insect and bird species as well as endangered long-tailed bats which is high on our radar to protect.
Partnering with like-minded organisations to support conservation efforts that address nature in need is a key priority for us and a critical element of the Harmony Plan. We are committed to investing 1% of our earnings to supporting nature and communities in need.
Our key conservation partners include:
Saving the Wild - Restoring balance through the Saving the Wild Beekeeping Project
In 2020, Comvita became a major sponsor of Saving the Wild to support environmental biodiversity and the local community through building beekeeping knowledge in the Kaimana Sanctuary and Amboseli National Park in Kenya, Africa.
Our latest mission, the Saving the Wild Beekeeping Project, is about helping restore and strengthen the delicate balance between humans and nature while generating positive social outcomes in our global communities.
Set between the 1.6 million acres in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem, the Kimana Wildlife Corridor is a critical wildlife dispersal area and is the only remaining way for wildlife to access the wider ecosystem to the east. The Saving the Wild Beekeeping Project helps protect the corridor and stop any further habitat loss from occurring.
This year we placed 200 hives in the Wildlife Corridor, and the bees are doing what they do best - pollinating the land and helping to create a more robust ecosystem.
We began harvesting our first honey harvest together, with all profits going towards an education fund for the children and women of the Massai Villages.
Save the Kiwi
We were excited to discover more than 22 kiwis at our Makino Station property, a 1,671-hectare property located in the central North Island of New Zealand. This inspired us to do what we can to protect these vulnerable birds and help them safely re-establish themselves with greater numbers.
As a result, we have teamed up with Save the Kiwi as a key sponsor. Save the Kiwi is an environmental cause that unites all New Zealanders to save our indicator species and help boost kiwi numbers by 2% each year.
We now have a kiwi protection programme underway at Makino Station with over 200 predator traps (approximately 27.8km of traplines) in position as a starting point, and a team on the ground monitoring kiwi and predator numbers.
We intend to work with Save the Kiwi as we broaden and create kiwi-safe habitats across our mānuka forests and enhance the natural habitat, so that the kiwis may flourish for generations to come.
This work is supported by additional research programmes underway at Makino to identify terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity.
We know that wasps - a predator for our bees and native wildlife - cause a devasting impact on our biodiversity by exploiting food sources within our forests.
In 2021, we became a key sponsor for the roll-out of the Wasp Wipeout Project in the Hawkes Bay Region. Wasp Wipeout is a community-led conservation project aimed at significantly reducing wasp populations in New Zealand. Initially established in high wasp risk areas such as Nelson-Tasman, they recently moved into high wasp population areas in the North Island.
While our apiary teams routinely establish wasp bait stations around our hives to protect and preserve bee welfare, this project broadens our reach.
In 2021 we funded the deployment of over 1,100 trap/bait stations, across 12 recreational conservation areas in Hawkes Bay. Several properties border where we place our hives, supporting a safe environment for our bees and communities.
This year, we plan on supporting a wider roll-out of the Wasp Wipeout Project within wider North Island.
For the Love of Bees
With bees being at the heart of what we do, it made perfect sense for us to partner with For the Love of Bees (FTLOB), to help grow its education work, pollinator-friendly regenerative organic horticulture projects and Centres of Regenerative Learning around New Zealand and beyond.
FTLOB is a charitable trust based in Auckland, New Zealand that aims to encourage the development of a network of urban farms across New Zealand, based on regenerative organic horticulture. It aspires to create healthier ecosystems and more resilient communities through its projects, including an urban market garden, regenerative horticulture leadership programmes and a bee school.
Under the partnership, Comvita-led beekeeping operations will be established at three existing FTLOB sites in Auckland, with ongoing collaboration with local beekeepers to ensure bee health. We will also support the funding and scale-up of FTLOB operations around New Zealand.
So far this year, our sponsorship commitment has helped the For the Love of Bees team to:
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