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Published: 2009-05-28 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is currently taking action to prevent self-seeded pines from blocking up geothermal springs on the Otumuheke Stream near Taupo’s Owen Delaney Park.

The springs provide hot water which helps create popular warm bathing pools at the point where the stream meets the Waikato River.

Besides wanting to protect the bathing sites, EW is also wanting to enhance the site to avoid damage to rare native plants which grow in geothermal areas.

The Waikato has 80 per cent of the country’s geothermal areas, so protecting geothermal plants in the region makes a very significant contribution to their survival nationally, said Dave Byers, EW’s biodiversity officer

"We are in the process of removing about a hectare of wild pines, which have self-seeded over the last 50 years," said Mr Byers.

‘Removing the trees is due to finish next Monday and we will then start fencing off the area to help prevent people from wandering into the steep and unsafe areas We anticipate log sales will cover most of the costs of the operation.."

EW will also be continuing with a programme of blackberry and pampas removal in the area to help protect the rare plants.

"This site contains plants which are amongst New Zealand’s rarest, and which can survive extremely hot temperatures" said Mr Byers.

"Protecting them is important to help maintain biodiversity in our region and nationally."

EW has also recently removed wildling pines in Crown Park in Taupo and Ohaaki, near Reporoa, as part of its biodiversity works programme to protect geothermal sites.