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Government boost to waterway restoration

Government boost to waterway restoration

Waterway restoration in New Zealand will be boosted over the next three years with the announcement today of $180,000 in funding for the Million Metres Streams Project from the Department of Conservation.

The Community Conservation Partnership Fund will help speed up the planting of native species along New Zealand’s waterways.

Launched by the Sustainable Business Network in October 2014, the Million Metres Streams Project is New Zealand’s first conservation crowdfunding website. It is dedicated to restoring the health of our waterways through the riparian planting of streams, rivers and lakes.

Community groups can list their riparian projects and raise funds for plants, while individual or corporate donors can fund the planting of metres of waterways.

In its first year, Million Metres has raised more than $125,000, which will pay for over 6000 metres of stream planting around the country. Three projects were planted this winter, totalling 4300 trees now in the ground.

Rachel Brown, CEO of the Sustainable Business Network, says, “The support from DOC is a game changer for Million Metres. It means we can focus on scale and really speed up the restoration effort. We are delighted and look forward to working with DOC to develop our partnership even more.

“Water quality is a national issue, with 62 per cent of our lowland rivers so polluted we can’t safely swim in them. It affects biodiversity, as well as farming and food systems, so it’s fantastic to see Government backing the restoration of our waterways.”

Department of Conservation Freshwater Manager Rosemary Miller says, “The Million Metres Streams Project is an outstandingly innovative and creative project that most certainly addresses the purpose of the Community Conservation Partnerships Fund of inspiring and enabling community-led conservation growth.

“The ecological health of New Zealand’s waterways, particularly in intensively farmed catchments and lower reaches of catchments, is in dire need of restoration. Restored riparian margins enhance not only the water quality, but even more importantly from a conservation perspective, they restore biodiversity (both aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity) and habitat. Equally as significant, Million Metres will connect urban people to rural people, which in itself is a significant objective.

“People are increasingly aware of New Zealand’s water problems, however, only a few people have access to riparian places to do things. This project provides an avenue using savvy technology for people (particularly urban people) to actually do something towards making environmental improvements.

“In the same way that sponsoring a child in Africa connected people to the plight of people overseas in a more direct way than just general campaigns for donations, this project will enable people to see where their money has gone and cultivate a connection to that particular place, even if it is miles away from where they live.”

The announcement coincides with the appointment of Georgina Hart as full-time Project Manager of Million Metres. Formerly an Environmental Management Analyst at Landcare Research, Georgina has worked for a number of environmental NGOs and government departments. She believes overcoming the challenges we face as a society is a creative, fun space in which to work and this is the approach she will take to Million Metres.
“We aim to more than double the metres we fund over the next year by working with 20 projects, and to double again the year following,” says Georgina. “To achieve this we’ll be out there connecting stream restoration and catchment groups to, as well as supporting these groups to crowd-fund. We’ll also be connecting concerned individuals and business with this great opportunity to contribute to improving waterway health in New Zealand.
“At Million Metres we believe that to get the scale of stream restoration that New Zealand needs, we’re all going to have to get behind stream groups and support them. If we all give just a little bit each, we can raise the funds needed to restore waterways all around the country. is every New Zealander’s opportunity to make a difference and help restore our urban and rural waterways. Go to the website and sponsor a metre of stream bank planting, and like us on Facebook!”

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