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First Round Of Wairakei Environmental Projects

Thursday, 17 November 2005,

First Round Of Wairakei Environmental Projects Selected

Protecting rare ferns, studying the micro-organisms that thrive in hot pools, and minimising visitor impacts on geothermal areas are just some of the significant environmental projects that will receive funding from the Wairakei Environmental Mitigation Charitable Trust.

The first round of applications has been completed with six projects funded to a total of $268,000 from the $1 million fund set up by Contact Energy Limited, the Department of Conservation and Fish and Game New Zealand (Eastern Region) to advance environmental projects associated with the Upper Waikato River and geothermal areas in the Taupo region.

The Chair of the Trust, Steve Smith of Fish and Game New Zealand said a high calibre of applications had been received.

"We have been delighted with the high standard of applications to the fund. I would like to thank all applicants for taking the time and effort to apply.

"The six selected projects best met the Trust funding criteria for environmental projects that will enhance the unique environments of the Upper Waikato River and world-renowned Taupo geothermal area.

"The successful applications are:

- a study into how to minimise the impact of visitors on the Karapiti and Broadlands geothermal areas which includes Taupo's popular "Craters of the Moon" attraction

- a re-vegetation project in the Ngatamariki Scenic Reserve to plant heat-tolerant plants

- a study of sinter formations in the Tokaanu Thermal Area - sinter is rock formed as silica is deposited from geothermal waters over long periods of time

- an extensive study into the micro-organisms and invertebrates that live in geothermal environments

- a project to enhance angling access below Ohakuri Dam

- a project to protect the Te Kopia Geothermal area from wilding pine and stock invasion, where large colonies of the rare ferns Dicranopteris linearis and Christella sp. 'thermal' and the rare bearded orchid Calochilus robertsonii can be found."

Contact Energy has provided $1 million to fund the Trust which was established as part of Contact Energy's consultation process in support of its application for the renewal of resource consents for its Wairakei Geothermal Power Plant.

Contact Generation Manager Murray Stanley said he was very pleased to see the high calibre of applications in the first round.

"The projects funded will help protect and enhance the important geothermal and river environments to the benefit of those habitats and for the enjoyment of recreational users both now and in the future," he said.

Mr Smith noted that the Trust was formed as a practical response to concerns raised about potential adverse environmental effects to be avoided, remedied or mitigated - a key requirement of the Resource Management Act.

"The Trust is about making a difference and seeing some tangible environmental benefits as soon as possible," he said.

The current Trustees are: Dave Lumley and Nick Singers (Department of Conservation); Colin Paton and Steve Smith (Fish and Game New Zealand); Murray Stanley and Tina Hailstone (Contact Energy).

Applications for the second round of funding will open in mid 2006.


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