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Ruamāhanga planting to deliver jobs and environment benefits

Clearance and mass planting - Ruamahanga River

Planting is coming to an end in the year one work programme of the Major Rivers – Riparian Management programme as Greater Wellington closes in on establishing more than 36,000 of 120,000 plants allocated towards improving water quality and habitat in the Ruamahanga River.

Part of riparian management under the Te Kāuru Upper Ruamāhanga Floodplain Management Plan, the five year project has a value of $5 million and covers a total of 100 hectares or public and private land, including installation of 30 kilometres of fencing.

Pest plant and pest animal control will also feature, a significant investment to ensure sufficient plant survival rates.

“This is a major project, the long term outcome of which will be stock exclusion, stable river banks and, as the regional community has called for, the benefit of cleaner fresh water,” says Greater Wellington regional councillor Cr. Adrienne Staples.

“The Ministry for the Environment Jobs for Nature programme, which is equally funded by the ministry and Greater Wellington for this programme, is also expected to generate 35 very welcome jobs equalling 66,000 labour hours, great for the people involved and a positive input into the local economy”.

The whole of the Ruamāhanga catchment is included in the programme, with current sites in Masterton and further south at the Geoffrey Blundell Barrage Gates and Tauanui river confluence with the Ruamāhanga River.

Mana whenua were consulted on the programme and Ra Smith and Horipo Rimene provided valuable feedback, particularly on the sites selected so far.

Clearance works and pre-planting spray have been completed at all three sites. Planting of 12,000 native plants is complete at the South Road site near the Hood Aerodrome and planting has started at the remaining two sites.

Each planting site has a 3-5 year maintenance (pest plant and animal control) period to ensure successful establishment, with w plant guards being used to minimise plants from being eaten by hares and rabbits.

Planting across the catchment will also create seed islands, with birds and wind helping to distribute seed throughout surrounding areas, increasing the potential for reintroducing native species without the need to plant.

Pest plants such as Old Man’s Beard, Tradescantia, Honeysuckle and numerous other invasive species will be actively managed, and trapping and baiting will be carried out to manage pest animal populations where necessary.

Looking ahead, plant supply discussions with individual nurseries have started for next planting season and procurement discussions are also occurring to secure plant supply for the life of the programme, with 72,000 plants planned over a further 20 hectares, and 3km of fencing installed.

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