Central Otago Ecological Trust

A Community-led Conservation Project

Two Skinks

New Zealand ’s dryland environments contain some of the most transformed, least protected and most threatened native ecosystems and species in New Zealand. One of the special features of Central Otago drylands is the high diversity of native lizards. However, a number of these have disappeared and many others are struggling to survive in remnant populations.

The Otago skink is one of the most critically threatened lizards in New Zealand. They used to be abundant across their former range but are now restricted to 8% of that area in two disjunct, relict populations. Otago skinks were recorded in the Alexandra basin in the 1970s but have now disappeared. They are at risk of extinction in the wild within a decade primarily due to introduced predators. Research by the Department of Conservation shows that eradication or intensive control of introduced predatory mammals can reverse their decline.

The Trust

The Central Otago Ecological Trust (COET) is a group of Alexandra residents with interests in wildlife conservation and community participation. Our vision is to see an inspired and enthusiastic community that is actively involved in recreating a diverse population of lizard species that once flourished in the dry inland basins of Otago. Therefore, in March 2005 we formed a charitable trust consisting of seven trustees and four advisors. We are formal partners with DOC’s Grand and Otago Skink Recovery Programme.

Our Aims

Our main goals are to: