Planting out riverbanks to benefit district

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A fundraising project to plant 24,000 native plants along river banks in Upper Clutha has raised more than $20,000.

The Upper Clutha Lakes Trust was managing the project, part of its five-year community water management plan.

Project manager Megan Williams said planting had commenced in Bullock Creek, including areas within the town. Replacing grass with native plants provided better bank stabilisation and filtered dirty water running into the creek, she said.

The native plants also provided shade for trout, insects and other invertebrates in the creek, encouraging biodiversity.

Plantings would be done by Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust, Ms Williams said.

“The work of Te Kakano is creating corridors for birds from the national parks and native forests, to be able to come down and feed in the township,” Ms Williams said.

Pockets of native plants enabled birds to find food within the town, “so they’ve got a stepping stone, where they can survive on their favourite food”.

“Anecdotally, I’ve lived here for 13 years and there’s a lot more native birds around the town and around the suburbs now.” Contributing to that were thousands of native plants and trees planted by Te Kakano, and “also new subdivisions, new neighbourhoods, people have been planting a lot more native plants in their gardens, so that’s providing a lot more native fodder for birds.”

Upper Clutha Lakes Trust secretary-treasurer, Julie Perry, of Wanaka, said riparian planting had a “matrix of benefits”, including increased filtration of road and stormwater runoff and biodiversity.

“If we can help filter that before it goes into the lake, all the better, because stormwater contains all sorts of nasties off the road – rubber off tires, oil out of brakes, there’s all sorts of stuff that ends up on the road that ends up in our stormwater.

“So that’s what the freshwater improvement funds project is about .. and that is why we are fundraising through Million Metres [Streams Project] to get 24,000 into these kinds of marginal areas and wetland restoration over the next five years.”

The Ministry for the Environment’s Freshwater Improvement Fund would match funds spent on freshwater improvement by the trust up to $385,000 “dollar for dollar”, Mrs Perry said.