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Published: 2008-05-30 00:00:00

Environment Waikato and the Wharekawa Catchment Care group are teaming up to plant 800 native trees and shrubs beside the Wharekawa River in Opoutere this Saturday.

The two organisations are aiming to transform the area from grass and weeds into a beautiful river margin. The plants will help to prevent erosion, provide habitat for native insects and birds, create shade and food sources for fish and improve the quality of water flowing into Wharekawa Harbour.

The care group was formed several years ago by a group of local people concerned about sediment and poor water quality in the Wharekawa River.

The river empties into Wharekawa Harbour over shellfish beds and popular recreational fishing and swimming areas.

The group has since been working with Environment Waikato, which has drafted a community plan for improving and protecting the catchment environment.

The Wharekawa Harbour and Catchment Management Plan was created under the Peninsula Project, a multi-agency approach to protecting people, property and the environment on the Coromandel Peninsula. It will help to stabilise the catchment, improve water quality in rivers and streams, reduce flood risks and improve biodiversity.

With Environment Waikato hoping to release the plan for public consultation this winter, tomorrow’s planting day is a celebration of the progress made to date.

Opoutere, Whangamata and Tairua locals or anyone who fishes, swims, launches boats or gathers shellfish in the area is welcome to attend.

“Opoutere is an area of incredible natural beauty and we commend care group members for the passion and enthusiasm they have shown in striving to protect it for future generations,” Environment Waikato land management officer Emily O’Donnell said.

“The planting site is in a highly visible area so we hope it helps to increase the group’s profile and get more people involved in what it’s trying to achieve. Community support will be crucial to the plan’s success.”

If you would like to help to plant trees tomorrow, please meet at Opoutere School at 9.30am ready to travel to the river site, which is accessed via private land.

If you are interested in supporting the care group and would like to get involved in future projects, please call Emily O’Donnell on 0800 800 401.