The Dotterel Defenders project is all about coastal communities coming together to identify and control threats to shorebirds that are dependent on conservation for their long term survival.

At all stages, the project has involved input and support from conservation volunteers, schools, trustees, hapu, farmers and local residents. We now know so much more about New Zealand dotterel in Taranaki as a result of the project. Previously it was considered that there were only a few pairs in Taranaki with breeding success largely unknown. Through the project six important breeding sites have been identified and eight pairs have been monitored to assess breeding success. So far this year the monitored pairs have successfully raised at least eight fledged chicks. This is a fantastic result and is likely to be due, in part, to the hard work of project participants who have been monitoring and managing the threats to these vulnerable shorebirds.

A central part of the project has included training volunteers how to operate traps and use could-based citizen science developments, including NatureWatch NZ and Trap.NZ, to record data. On-going monitoring has included recording the behaviour of the dotterels (178 Taranaki-based sightings), monitoring predators (sandy footprint and tracking tunnel monitoring), monitoring vehicle use on beaches and predator trapping (catches include 8 stoats, 9 weasels, 18 hedgehogs  and 6 rats). The information gained through using this participatory science approach has been instrumental in better protecting New Zealand dotterel and their habitat in Taranaki.