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Natural Environment Recovery Programme progress

Natural Environment Recovery Programme progress

At a forum in Christchurch last night, many of those who helped develop the Natural Environment Recovery Programme for greater Christchurch Whakaara Taiao learned more about the considerable progress being made across the 17 workstreams that make up the programme.

Programme leader Chrissie Williams (Environment Canterbury) thanked the group responsible for guiding the projects reflecting 10 different themes.

Reporting on the Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct project in the central city, Tanya Neville of the Christchurch Central Development Unit illustrated the key components of the 3.2-kilometre, 25-hectare area that will reconnect people to the river. This project will be completed by the end of 2015.

Clive Appleton of Christchurch City Council reflected on the water quality and ecosystem health focuses of the Council’s stormwater treatment and land drainage recovery programme. Rain gardens are a particularly innovative feature of this programme.

Bailey Peryman of the Soil and Health Association said how pleased his organisation was to be selected to lead the project encouraging community gardens, urban forests and a food reliance network.

Rob Lawrence (Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce) spoke on behalf of the group promoting the Waitākiri Sanctuary in the Travis Wetland area of eastern Christchurch. Evan Smith of the Avon Ōtākaro Network talked about the mahinga kai exemplar project in the same location. This 12-hectare area features 11 outdoor “classrooms” focusing on different habitats and species.

Andrew Crossland of Christchurch City Council concluded the forum by providing a striking update on bird populations since the earthquakes. While there has been a large redistribution and some colonies have been deserted, new habitat has also been created.

Environment Canterbury Commissioner Rex Williams, who opened the forum, says the Natural Environment Recovery Programme is important for the future wellbeing of Cantabrians.
“Our natural environment is a central part of our shared heritage and culture. Many of us live here because we value the natural environment - the rivers, the beaches and harbours, the forests and Port Hills - and the activities these special places provide,” Mr Williams said.

“This initiative builds on a great deal of important work by many people and organisations that has been continuing for a number of years. It is very pleasing that such good progress is being made and I thank everyone involved. Of great importance to Ngāi Tahu is taking active responsibility for the environment so it is left better than it was found. There is much still to do and we all look forward to the challenge.”


The Natural Environment Recovery Programme was initiated through the Recovery Strategy for greater Christchurch. It acknowledges the links between the natural environment and recovery, and integrates with other recovery programmes and objectives.

Seventeen projects led by different organisations are included in the programme to reflect priorities identified by the community - for example, there is a strong community desire for land made available being used to include provision for recreation, parks and community gardens.
Greater Christchurch is defined in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 as the districts of Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council and Waimakariri District Council, and includes the coastal marine area adjacent to these districts.
The focus of the Natural Environment Recovery Programme is on areas most affected by the earthquakes - generally the catchments of the spring-fed streams (Halswell/Huritini, Heathcote/Ōpāwaho, Avon/Ōtākaro, Styx/Pūrākaunui, and Kaiapoi) and the Port Hills. There was less impact on the natural environment on Banks Peninsula and in inland areas.

Environment Canterbury was asked by the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee, to lead development of the programme in 2012. It was launched at an event at Travis Wetland in eastern Christchurch in November 2013.

The programme was developed with strategic partners Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Christchurch City Council, Waimakariri District Council, Selwyn District Council and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. Ngā Papatipu Rūnanga, the Canterbury District Health Board and the Department of Conservation are also key partners. These organisations and a number of others are involved in delivering the 17 workstreams.

See www.ecan.govt.nz/nerp


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