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Published: 2006-07-24 00:00:00

Planting 2250 native trees, grasses and shrubs along 2km of the Whangarahi and Karaka streams is a daunting task for just three people, but they’ll be finished by mid August.

Working in conjunction with Coromandel on Track and Coromandel Independent Living Trust, Environment Waikato has contracted three local residents to restore the riparian zone along the banks of the Whangarahi and Karaka streams.

This restoration is just one of the initiatives in the Whangarahi and Karaka riparian management plan local community groups and residents are supporting. Developed by Environment Waikato with input from some residents and members of Forest and Bird, the riparian management plan is designed to increase the number of native plants and animals in the area. It also supports the flood protection works Environment Waikato has completed under the multi-agency Peninsula Project.

The amount of sediment in the Whangarahi and Karaka streams contributes to Coromandel town’s flooding problems when it rains heavily. It also makes the water murky, smothers fish eggs and invertebrates, and reduces the streams’ ability to provide habitat and food for the plants and animals living in them.

To help reduce the amount of sediment, Environment Waikato has fenced the area to keep stock out. Significant volumes of accumulated shingle at the point where these two streams meet has also been removed, but as Environment Waikato Peninsula Project Manager Julie Beaufill explains these works are not sufficient on their own.

“Fencing this section of the streams’ banks to keep stock out is a good first step but we really need to decrease the amount of sediment that runs off the surrounding land. Restoring the riparian zone does this as the plants filter the sediment by slowing the water down.”

In the long-term restoring the streams’ riparian zone will create a bush corridor for bird species and habitat for the plants and animals living in them.

Given the benefits, the next step is to improve the riparian zone all the way along these two streams. To do this, Environment Waikato will be encouraging and supporting landowners on these two streams to remove plant pests such as wild ginger and woolly nightshade and replace them with appropriate native plants. Any landowners in the area who are interested in doing this should contact Emily O’Donnell on 0800 800 401.