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Visit to Lake Rotokauri celebrates habitat restoration

17 May, 2019

Visit to Lake Rotokauri celebrates habitat restoration programme

A visit by young environmentalists has celebrated the hard work and funding that continues to revitalise Lake Rotokauri reserve.

The 50 young environmentalists were from BLAKE, formerly known as the Sir Peter Blake Trust, and were in the Waikato last month to look at environmental projects and undertake training.

The group made a trip to Lake Rotokauri to look at the ecological enhancement programme which is run by Waikato District Council in partnership with Hamilton City Council and funding from the Waikato River Authority.

The programme of native habitat restoration has been ongoing at the lake for at least the past 10 years. Over $1 million has been spent in the reserve to improve and maintain access and natural values.

Since 2015 a habitat creation/restoration programme funded by Waikato District Council, Hamilton City Council and the Waikato River Authority has been implemented which includes the installation of floating wetlands, native species planting and mammalian and plant pest control.

Waikato District Council’s Ecological Planner Ben Wolf says most of this work would not have been possible without funding from the Waikato River Authority.

Highlights include:
• Planting over 50,000 native plants
• The return of bittern (wetland bird) to the reserve
• Efforts to restore living peat bog
• Establishment of biological weed control
• Mammalian pest control to reduce possums, mustelids and rats
• Moving fences out to legal boundary lines
• Planting up previously grazed areas with native species. In total more than 9.5ha of new native habitat has been created
• Extension of paths and walkways and more than 1km of new stock-proof fencing
• Finalist in the SERA Restoration Excellence Awards (2016 and 2018)

In 2014 the Lake Rotokauri Ecological Enhancement Plan was produced with a number of recommendations to improve biodiversity, water quality and native habitat.

In 2015 Waikato District Council received funding from the Waikato River Authority for a 5 year ecological enhancement programme.

To date the programme has seen investment to the value of $850,000 investment from its three supporters ($47,000 from Hamilton City Council, more than $400,000 from Waikato District Council and more than $400,000 from Waikato River Authority).

Hamilton City Council Parks and Recreation Manager Maria Barrie says, “These projects are important for our community, and also present great learning experiences – as has been the case here. We’re proud to be a stakeholder in the Lake Rotokauri project and be contributing to it.”

On their visit, the BLAKE young environmentalists learned about habitat restoration, plant and animal pest control, biocontrol of weeds and the issues associated with water bodies being managed for environmental values in a catchment that is affected by a mixture of farming land, residential and commercial land use activities.

The young environmentalists had a great day and thanked Waikato District Council and Waikato River Authority staff by singing a waiata and presenting them with some Sir Peter Blake Trust red socks.

“These young people are the future guardians of the environment in New Zealand, so initiatives like the BLAKE leadership programme aids the development of these people, empowering them to make the right decisions in the future when dealing with the global environment, an especially important issue in these times of climate change and global warming,” Mr Wolf says.

Notes for the editor:

Rotokauri is a peat lake and a nationally important wetland. The reserve is around 75ha and spans across two local authorities – Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Council. The lake size is 38ha and 4m deep.

The lake is surrounded by native and exotic wet woodland, raupo and grassed areas and drains into the Waipa river via the Ohote Stream.

The water quality is hypertrophic (very high in nutrient), due largely to inputs from the surrounding catchment, which is a mixture of farming land, residential and commercial.

The lake is owned by the Crown but managed in agreement with the Department of Conservation by Waikato District Council.


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