Natureland’s hopes are aflutter as plans for a butterfly exhibit take a step forward.
The Natureland Wildlife Trust has welcomed three new board members from the Butterfly Forest Trust who are keen to bring a 36-metre butterfly forest enclosure to the Tahunanui zoo.
The future of the zoo was left somewhat in the balance earlier this year, after the Nelson City Council rejected a bid for additional funding.
Trust chair Alan Hinton says other than the addition of the new members, no specific new plans have been formalised but Natureland is headed in a positive direction.
“We now have to look at how we bring the butterfly exhibit into Natureland,” he said.
“It’s a concept, it’s been discussed with council and we think they’re very comfortable with it. We’re comfortable as trustees, but now we have to go through the mechanics of how we’re going to raise the money, and everything else that goes with it.”
The new Trust’s first meeting will be in early August.
Hinton said he was confident a butterfly exhibit would go ahead, but the form it would take and its positioning were yet to be determined.
He said an area of unused land on the northern edge of the park would likely house the butterflies and it would be a “significant” dome exhibit containing as many as 2000 butterflies.
“We’ve got the land and that’s a key part to it. We don’t have to replace anything with the butterfly exhibit, we can have the exhibit as an extra.”
It would also likely be home to exotic plants and tropical fish, and feature a winding wooden path through the enclosure.
Hinton said the idea for a butterfly forest had received enthusiastic support from members of the community they’d spoken to so far.
“The important thing now is looking forward and we are feeling positive,” he said.
“If you go through all the submissions to the [council’s] annual plan, Nelsonians love the idea of Natureland, especially the young mums with children and the classes coming through as part of the education… We just have to build on what we’ve got and make [the zoo] a bit more viable so there’s not the dependency on other people to support us.”
Butterfly Forest Trust member Glenn Turner is one of the three new board members who hopes to bring new life to Natureland and open up new revenue streams.
“Can you imagine walking into an Amazon rainforest, you’ve got exotic plants all around the place, you’ve got very colourful butterflies flying everywhere, landing on you, sitting on your shoulder,” he said, regarding what people could expect of a new butterfly exhibit.
He was looking forward to discussions about the possibilities for Natureland.
“We were really concerned to hear the relationship between the council and Natureland Wildlife Trust was probably heading in the wrong direction so we’re really delighted that we’re able to come on board and really recharge… I can tell you right now, we have energy.”
Janie Proctor and Daniel Adam are the other two Butterfly Forest team members who have joined the Natureland Wildlife Trust.
The Butterfly Forest Trust already owns butterflies, reptiles, birds, and plants and has been looking for a new home for them since their Thames site closed to the public last year, after its lease expired.
Butterfly Forest submitted to the council’s annual plan process stating they could afford to run the zoo on the current level of funding, of $170,000 per year.