ENVIRONMENT

New funding for Kaikoura Biodiversity Projects

Wednesday 15 August 2012, 4:35PM
By Environment Canterbury
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KAIKOURA

Environment Canterbury today announced that three biodiversity projects had been approved for funding by the Kaikōura Zone Committee. Total funding of almost $48,000 has been granted, the first Immediate Steps biodiversity protection projects for the zone under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

Winston Gray, Zone Committee Biodiversity representative, says two projects focus on protection of wetlands and the other on protection of a hill-country stream – a tributary to the Oaro River.

“The common theme for all three projects is to protect indigenous freshwater biodiversity values from the effects of livestock access,” Mr Gray said. “Livestock accessing waterways can result in increased levels of sediment and faecal contamination which can have negative impacts on the native flora and fauna that inhabit the waterways. These projects are great candidates for support because they go beyond the requirements of the current stock exclusion rules.”

Weed control and deer exclusion to protect the native vegetation that surrounds the waterways is also common to the funded projects. “Protection of existing vegetation around waterways is vital to ensure that any run-off from the surrounding land is filtered, the waterways are shaded, and there is plenty of leaf litter and material around to provide habitat and food for the native fish and invertebrates,” Mr Gray said. “Protection of existing vegetation is far more efficient and cost effective than creating it from scratch.”

Each project is legally subject to QEII covenants which enhances the value of the work undertaken by the current landowners and ensures that the project sites are maintained and protected in perpetuity.

The projects

The protection of an excellent example of a podocarp-hardwood forest abutting a wetland in the lower Clarence Valley has been awarded funding. The spring-fed raupo wetland, owned by Derrick and Jane Millton, has been rated “Regionally Outstanding” and has a high diversity of species.  Derrick Millton says there will be an upgrade to current fencing around the forest and wetland to exclude deer. “While stock have been excluded, wild deer have still been entering the area and damaging the wetland as well as eating regenerating native forest seedlings,” Mr Millton said.  The funding will also help with weed control within the covenant and in nearby forest remnants to enable the forest canopy to recover.

The second project continues the work already done by Bernard and Rose Hailes to protect and repair riparian forest vegetation and a wetland along the Hapuku Scarp. Bernard Hailes says species of particular interest include black maire and tawa (the southern-most populations for those species), and several threatened plant species. “The wetland itself is very rare both within the ecological district and the region due to its unique hydrology and geology,” Mr Hailes said. The funding will be used for new stock-proof fencing and upgrades to current fencing around forest and wetland, including wide buffer zones and some riparian and in-fill planting. There will also be extensive weed control within the covenant area (almost 19 hectares) to protect the wetland and the forest.

The final project awarded funding involves protection of native riparian vegetation along a stretch of Te Kahika Stream. The project site is located on property owned by John and Alistair Trewin. Small, hill-fed tributary streams such as Te Kahika Stream play an important part in maintaining the overall health of the waterways in the region. The existing riparian vegetation along Te Kahika Stream helps to maintain the stream’s health, as well as having red beech trees juxtaposed with coastal vegetation, which is a rare combination. The Trewins say the funding will be used for fencing to exclude stock and deer from the stream and forest, as well as weed control to protect remnant forest vegetation.

Applications invited

The Kaikōura Zone Committee has $500,000 of funding available over five years to support landowners in protecting freshwater biodiversity values. The biodiversity funding is intended to support on-the-ground actions which improve the ecosystem health of freshwater habitats such as wetlands, springs, coastal streams, braided rivers, lakes and lowland waterways. Examples include fencing off from stock waterways with significant riparian buffer zones, riparian planting, and weed and pest management.

If you have a biodiversity protection project that could benefit from financial support, please contact either Robyn Russ (Environment Canterbury Biodiversity Officer), robyn.russ@ecan.govt.nz, 027 3874307, or Winston Gray (Kaikōura Zone Committee Biodiversity Representative), winston.gray@kaikoura.govt.nz, 027 4345037.

Immediate Steps

Immediate Steps is a $10 million programme for biodiversity which forms part of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. The programme has an initial five-year focus and covers the protection of endangered species and wahi taonga (sacred sites). It also covers maintenance of Canterbury’s braided rivers, providing habitat for native flora and fauna, as well as protecting wetlands and other ecosystems.

Zone Committees are charged with distributing the funding for their area and there is also significant funding available to the Regional Committee to support regionally significant biodiversity projects. The Immediate Steps funding model requires applicants to contribute at least one third in cash or in kind towards the project.