If your school and community are rearing to explore your local environment, this is the resource for you!

Backyard Biodiversity is a joint initiative between Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust and the Taranaki Regional Council. Through a series of fun videos, Rotokare and TRC environmental educators Ash and Emily will guide you on discovering, protecting, and enhancing backyard habitat for native species.

This 11-episode video series was produced during the COVID-19 lockdown in April-May 2020, and was initially published on a Facbook page with video releases twice-weekly. Each video came with its own task for students to accomplish for the week, be it building their own bug whares, lizard lounges, tracking tunnels, or conducting their own night surveys. Each episode also comes with additional resources for adults and children alike to read, explore, and engage with.

All of our epsiodes and resources are available for your use below.
Check out our Facebook page to engage with our content live.


Episode 1: Meet Your Backyard Buddies

Relevant resources to help you explore your backyard: 

- Protecting your environment

- Become a Kiwi Guardian

- Exploring nature with children booklet


Episode 2: Backyard Bug Hunt

Relevant resources to help you explore your backyard: 

- Rotokare Invertebrate Scoresheet

- Landcare Research key for bug identification

- Phil Bendle Collection for a look at the diversity of invertebrates found in Taranaki

- For feedback from experts, upload your bug photos to iNaturalist NZ

- Join the StayiNatHome project to check out what other New Zealanders have been finding in their backyards 

- DOC's Experiencing invertebrates in your green space


Episode 3: Mantis Fun Feature

Relevant resources to help you explore your backyard: 

- NZ Mantis fun facts

- African Mantis fun facts

- How to draw a mantis


Episode 4: Building a Bug Whare

Relevant resources to help you explore your backyard: 

- Build a wētā motel 

- Create a safe haven for your 'dinosaurs' - build a weta motel!

- Basic 5-star weta motel design

- About pūtangatana or tree wētā 

- Tree Weta Ecology

- Pest Detective: Rat or Wētā Droppings?


Episode 5: Exploring at Night

Relevant resources to help you explore your backyard: 

- Forest & Bird's Wild Nightlife

- Ahi Pepe / MothNet

- Beginner's Guide to Macro Moths | Nga Paihau

- Night Photography Tips and Settings for Total Beginners (pretty techinical!)


Episode 6: Backyard Birds

Relevant resources to help you explore your backyard: 

Landcare Research New Zealand Garden Bird Guide

NZ Birds Online. Digital encyclopaedia of New Zealand bids, including images, calls, and everything else you need to know

- Garden Bird Survey


Episode 7: Building Backyard Bird Habitat

Relevant resources to help you explore your backyard: 

How to Feed Native Birds in your Garden

Month by month calendar of plants for native birds

- Attract birds to your garden

- Rotokare Feeding Our Feathered Friends (for bird pudding and bird nectar feeder instructions) (coming soon)


Episode 8: Garden Gorgeous Geckos and Splendid Skinks (Backyard Lizards)

Relevant resources to help you explore your backyard: 

-  Look Out for Lizards in Taranaki (Lizard guide)

Attract lizards to your garden

- New Zealand Lizard Societiies: New Zealand Herpetological Society and SRARNZ (Herpetological research in New Zealand)


Episode 9: Identifying Backyard Plants

Relevant resources to help you explore your backyard: 

iNaturalist NZ

- Adding an observation on iNaturalist

- Weedbusters

- Basic Leaf Features (as shown in the video)

- Experiencing Native Trees in your Green space (Educationr resource)

- Restoration Planting Guide for Taranaki

- Plant Me Instead booklet

Advanced Plant Identification: 

- NZ Plant Conservation Network

- Andrew Crowe's serieis of Identification Books

Other Plant Identification Apps:

- NZ Trees

- PlantSnap

Plants to attract birds and lizards: 

Attract birds to your garden

- How to Create a Lizard Friendly Garden

- Attract lizards to your garden


Episode 10: Become a Backyard Pest Detective

Relevant resources to help you explore your backyard: 

All things Trapping:

PredatorFree NZ

- A Practical Guide to Trapping

- Towards Predator-free Taranaki. For Taranaki-related trapping advice; website lists suppliers of $10 rat trap packs

- Waitara Taiao for community trapping

Predator Monitoring: 

- Pest Detective. How to identify droppings, footpritns, and other clues. 

- Wētā droppings on Pest Detective

- Rotokare Eco-Creations: Tracking Tunnels DIY 

- Rotokare Tracking Tunnel Resource Book (footprint identification) 

- Rotokare Chew Card Activity

- PredatorFree NZ How to use chew cards

- Landcare Research Chewcards: a guide to the interpretation of animal tooth impressions

Recording trap catches: 

- Using Trap NZ

- Trap NZ instructions for Taranaki 


Episode 11: The Making of Backyard Biodiversity