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Published: 2001-08-24 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is to become a foundation member of the Lower Waikato River Enhancement Society – a group formed to restore the river’s banks.

Various agencies, iwi, river companies and landowners have been working together for the past two years to implement an action plan to plant native plants along the banks of the Lower Waikato River for stabilising the river banks, providing an alternative to willows and restoring the riparian environment. The project also benefits the existing river works, and is also linked to Project Watershed and Environment Waikato’s riparian protection project.

The Lower Waikato Enhancement Project was initiated by Environment Waikato’s Asset Management Group in 1999, and its long term success depended on the commitment of all the groups involved as well as getting additional funding.

This month’s Environment Waikato Operations Committee heard the member organisations had decided to set up an incorporated society to ensure the project’s success. Members include Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game Council, Waikato District Council, Nga Muka Development Trust, Waahi Whaanui Trust, North Waikato Federated Farmers, New Zealand Landcare Trust, Mighty River Power and Genesis Power.

Total capital of $750,000 over five years was needed to achieve substantial change. Key areas for action included communications to encourage community participation in propagation and planting projects, obtaining an additional $650,000 in funding from other sources and fencing and planting.

Two significant planting sites had been established at Meremere and Horahora, with plants sourced from local nurseries and Waikeria Prison maintaining the stock. The Horahora Regional Park planting team carried out planting and maintenance.

The Committee was told that to achieve long term success and a healthy riparian habitat along the river banks, the project needed to be financially and structurally sustainable, and becoming an incorporated society would enable financial assistance from the community and corporate funding sources.

Councillors praised the project’s initiatives and the positive results it was achieving. The project was considered a potential model for managing natural resources in other parts of the Region.