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New volunteer caretakers for Schouten Island


Volunteer caretakers on Schouten Island, at the southern end of Freycinet National Park, will provide information to the increasing number of island visitors and record valuable information during the peak summer period.

The new program is a cooperative venture between the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) and WILDCARE Inc and follows on from existing volunteer caretaker programs around the State.

Parks and Wildlife Service Freycinet ranger Pete Lingard, said it's the first time volunteers will be full-time based on Schouten Island.

"Existing WILDCARE Inc volunteer caretaker programs for Maatsuyker and Deal islands have been very successful in providing a full-time volunteer presence on these remote islands," Mr Lingard said.

"The caretakers' role is extremely valuable as they undertake basic maintenance of heritage buildings on the islands, provide information to visitors and look after the natural values by helping with weed control."

"In fact volunteers have been very involved in helping us manage Schouten Island through an annual weed control program that's been running for the past eight years, as well as a number of working bees at Moreys Huts."

The Schouten Island program began in early January, continues to early March and involves at least two caretakers on the island for stints of one to two weeks.

Mr Lingard said Schouten Island has recently become a popular stopover for boating and fishing enthusiasts as well as a special place for visitors to explore its natural and historic features such as Moreys Huts.

"The volunteer caretakers will record the number of visitors, number of boats seen in Great Oyster Bay as well as weather statistics and wildlife sightings.

"All of this is valuable information which will help the Parks and Wildlife Service to manage the island sustainably into the future."

Mr Lingard said island caretaking seems to be a very sought after experience, as there was no shortage of interested people when the program was advertised.

"Some our island caretakers just can't get enough of this unique experience, with a number having completed repeat stays on Maatsuyker and Deal."