NZGCSA Environmental Award supported by PGG Wrightson Turf
The NZGCSA and PGG Wrightson Turf are delighted to announce that the winners of the 2015 NZGCSA Environmental Award, supported by PGG Wrightson Turf, are Kauri Cliffs Golf Club and Course Manager, Andy Wood.
The Judges deemed Kauri Cliffs to be the clear winner and were impressed with the detailed application, the quality of the supporting evidence, and what they saw during the judging visit. Kauri Cliffs has been around for 15 years now and the positive environmental improvements they have made are testament to the long term commitment of owner Julian Robertson, and the staff led by Andy Wood and his assistant Andrew Moyle who have been there since the start. One thing that stood out for the judges was the 'buy-in' of staff and the genuine pride they have taken in greatly improving the landscape and natural environment, and reducing the environmental footprint of the golf course as time has moved on.
The close association Kauri Cliffs has with its' local community and its' willingness to engage with local authorities and groups on environmental issues is extremely commendable and sets an example for other environmentally ambitious golf clubs to follow. Kauri Cliffs has clear evidence of good relationships and initiatives with the Department of Conservation, QEII National Trust, NZ Kiwi Foundation, the Northland Regional Council, the Far North Forestry Association, Matauri Bay School, Matauri Bay Trust, and NorthTec. That makes it a genuine leader in advancing the reputation of golf courses as potential environmental leaders.
Strong turf management practices that have led to significant reductions in water, agrichemical and fertiliser use are in evidence. Given the Northland climate and grass varieties maintained Kauri Cliffs nutrient usage is low. In the last 5 years Nitrogen use has fallen by 45%, Phosphorus by 75%, and Potassium by 80%, which has also reduced the energy required to maintain the property. Other energy savings include more efficient irrigation pumps, energy efficient light bulbs and timers, and naturalised areas. Kauri Cliffs waste recycling program is extensive. In addition to recycling plastics, cardboard, glass and metal, food scraps are fed to on-site pigs and chickens, and fallen trees are recycling in to garden mulch and firewood for use at their Lodge. Even the waste oil from the deep fryers in the kitchen is being turned into biofuel by an enterprising staff member!
Kauri Cliffs has planted over 100,000 native trees on the property to replenish and regenerate forest areas and has created substantial native bush corridors which act as pathways and sanctuaries for native birdlife. To protect the flourishing birdlife major pest control measures are in place. The numbers have been recorded for many years and more than 18,000 possums have been despatched, along with pigs, cats, stoats, rats, rabbits, goats and dogs. Foot baths are in place to help prevent Kauri dieback, and there are ongoing plans to extend what they are doing to other areas on and around the property.
One of Kauri Cliff's planting corridors showing both well established (foreground) and recently expanded (distance) native plantings.
Kauri Cliffs clearly has a resource advantage over many golf courses in New Zealand that some would argue makes taking environmental initiatives easier. However, their commitment financially, and the genuine beliefs of the owner and staff, extend well beyond token gestures. It was the intent, pride in what they had done, future plans and desire to go further, and outstanding links with their community and outside agencies that swayed the judges. Even if smaller golf clubs take those key lessons from the Kauri Cliffs approach, the positive contributions they could make to their own environments would be substantial.
It was one of those smaller golf clubs, Ashburton Golf Club and Superintendent Grant Saunders, who were the other finalist in the Environmental Award, receiving a judge's visit as a result of a comprehensive application document. Ashburton Golf Club can be commended for their water efficient, low nutrient and Browntop dominant approach to golf course management. Having a light environmental footprint in an area increasingly dominated by intensive dairy farming sets an example for those that surround them.
The NZGCSA would like to thank the applicants, judges, and PGG Wrightson Turf for their ongoing support of this award.