April Greendot Tours

Growing interest in restoring native vegetation across the Selwyn District

Beautiful autumn sunshine proved the perfect weather for Te Ara Kākāriki’s Greendot Plantout Tour held last Sunday. Attendance was well up on recent years, with interested neighbours and locals coming along. The morning tour featured two planting sites in the Tai Tapu area, including the large legacy site Te Pae O Ahuriri as well as a nearby private property where plantings have gone in over a longer period. Afternoon tour participants were able to explore the other large legacy site Ōkakaraiti located just out of Springfield where 30,000 native seedlings will go in over a three-year period, as well as a neighbouring property with more established areas.

Landowner Wim Nijhof began planting in 2017, installing around 1,000 plants on his Lincoln property each year since then. In the beginning he would plant, whatever ecosourced seedlings were available, not knowing about different species requirements and differences in conditions throughout the site. The project has been challenging, suffering from prolonged waterlogged periods and severely dry periods but it has still been rewarding especially when you notice the increase in birdlife and see the great growth on the earlier plantings. This year too has been a great year for restoration with regular summer rain resulting in high survival and phenomenal growth of seedlings planted last Spring.

Ecologist Colin Meurk explained his research that began Te Ara Kākāriki’s vision of creating a corridor of greendots (planted areas) across the Canterbury Plains, giving birdlife and other biodiversity a pathway to travel from the mountains to the sea. Eco-sourced plants for each Greendot are carefully chosen in order to recreate as closely as possible what once grew there before, extrapolating from any nearby areas of remanent forest such as Lord’s Bush in the Springfield area. Each site has its own challenges as well, with a unique feature of Ōkakaraiti being an old glacial moraine and some very stony ground. The neighbouring railway also led to less flammable native species being preferred in case of any sparks, and of course wind and snow tolerance key too.

While the chosen plants are then carefully planted in designated areas initially, Colin Meurk explained that nature doing its thing was a very important part of the restoration process. In time and often via birds, nature will send the seeds out to establish in the right place, at the right time. With the final site of the day being planted over a ten-year period, there were visible examples of this where lowland ribbonwood, broadleaf and mikimiki had generated from seed amongst the initial plantings.

Springfield landowners Pete and Pam Aldersley spoke of their initial challenges battling weeds – solved in one part by planting tussock which succesfully overtook the weeds but has now died back as the native trees and shrubs have grown up so much. Another part of their section was once so covered in broom it had to be bulldozed before restoration planting began, however the natives are now flourishing and with time overtopping should win our over any remaining broom.

Any landowners interested in creating a Greendot on their land with support from Te Ara Kākāriki in2023 are encouraged to apply for assistance via www.kakariki.org.nz .

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