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Council to assist biodiversity project

Environment Waikato’s Environment Committee has recommended a $40,000 grant to assist AgResearch with a biodiversity restoration project in the Mangaotama catchment. 

The proposal is part of a land use plan for the catchment developed as part of the Whatawhata Catchment Management Project.

It aims to look at the processes influencing degradation of the variety of native life in the area, as well as ways of restoring, managing and monitoring biodiversity in pastoral lowland and hill country landscapes.

The project began in 1996, with a management group of researchers, farmers and representatives from the Department of Conservation, Environment Waikato, Auckland Regional Council and Waikato District Council. The group has developed a plan for a achieving a well managed hill country catchment.

The project intends to restore an area of the catchment to enhance biodiversity and improve the function of stream banks. It will also provide a place for experimental work on ecological restoration practises and the effects of agricultural activities on native species, and a demonstration site for farmers of techniques, costs and benefits of restoration.

Funding is needed for the part of the project focusing on enhancement of indigenous biodiversity in intensive pastoral areas.

Areas in the 270 hectare catchment with native forest fragments have been designated for conservation, fenced and a plan to restore native vegetation developed. Half will be restored this year, with different plantings for research purposes. They include harvested pine forest, differently spaced native plantings and riparian retirement.

The Council funding is to be used to plant three hectares as best practice demonstration sites for native forest restoration.

The funding is to be used for plants and weed spraying, and the grant will be considered by the full Council later this month.

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