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Published: 2010-06-29 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has awarded a total of $37,500 from its Environmental Initiatives Fund (EIF) towards conservation and education initiatives aimed at enhancing the environment and providing environmental education opportunities.

The council has awarded $12,500 in funding to the Kauri 2000 Trust for tree planting and signage placement at Matarangi Reserve.  A grant of $20,000 has been granted to Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game for tree planting in the eastern Whangamarino wetland. The council has also agreed to a one-off contribution to the community-based programme Progress to Health to assist with their nursery and horticulture training programme

The money granted to the Kauri 2000 Trust will help with the planting of nearly 2,000 Kauri trees at the Matarangi reserve, and signage placement at three locations on the Coromandel - Waikawau Bay Farm Park, Lynch Stream track, and each end of the coastal walkways track at Matarangi Reserve. The signs will provide valuable information on kauri in the area, about kauri dieback disease and what the public can do to help prevent it.

The council acknowledged the high community profile of this project the trust’s plantings are proving a catalyst for the creation of walking tracks used by visitors and local communities. In fact, the Matarangi Reserve has the potential to be the largest ‘planted’ kauri forest in New Zealand.

Environment Waikato deputy chair John Fisher applauded the work of the Kauri 2000 Trust. 

“It is an amazing effort to have that many trees on the Coromandel.  The trust’s efforts are ensuring that future generations can also appreciate the kauri,” he said.  

The Kauri 2000 Trust evolved out of a project to mark the new millennium. The trust’s focus is on restoring the kauri forests of the Coromandel Peninsula for future generations to enjoy, and educating the public on the history and ecology of the kauri forest. To date, the trust has planted over 30,000 kauri at 36 planting sites around the Peninsula.

Continuing the conservation theme, the council has granted $20,000 to Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game for tree planting at a site adjacent to the Whangamarino wetland.

Whangamarino wetland is the second largest bog and swamp complex in the North Island and is listed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.  Fish and Game own the eastern Whangamarino wetland, located 8km north of Te Kauwhata, covering an area of 7,290 hectares.  Resource consent has been granted to construct twenty one hectare ponds.  The consent is conditional on there being no net lost of mud fish in the area, and Fish and Game have worked closely with Environment Waikato staff to determine the best process for protecting mud fish in advance of submitting its application for EIF funding.

In addition to the creation of recreational gamebird hunting pond sites, Fish and Game propose to reduce the impact of drainage and nutrient discharge to the peat bog.  The soil excavated to form the ponds and drains between the ponds will be used to construct 50-70cm high bunds adjacent to the drains providing walkways or quad bike access between the ponds.   

By removing the willow, the project also aims to reverse the adverse changes caused by willow encroachment.   The establishment of an incorporated society made up of balloted gamebird hunters is intended to provide ongoing volunteer maintenance of the site as well as educational access for the wider community.

The one-off contribution of $5,000 awarded by the Council to Hamilton’s ‘Progress to Health’ group will assist with the purchase of materials to support their nursery and horticulture training programme.  Progress to Health is a community-based organisation providing support services to people with mental health disabilities.  The group has a native tree nursery project which includes a training and work experience programme that grows plants for local restoration projects.  Councillors noted while the Environmental Initiative Fund’s focus is primarily on environmental concerns, this project provides an opportunity to support other community wellbeing needs at the same time and granted a one-off contribution.

The Environmental Initiatives Fund has provided about $179,000 in financial support to environmental and community projects throughout the year.