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Published: 2017-05-17 12:45:00

Nearly $315,000 is due to be provided over four years for further planting at the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park in Hamilton.

Waikato Regional Council’s finance committee signed off the natural heritage fund contribution today after the finalisation of a funding deed with the applicant Tui 2000.

The vision behind the Waiwhakareke project – situated near Hamilton Zoo - is to create a 60-hectare habitat sanctuary that represents the original ecosystem diversity in the Hamilton basin.

The park project – established in 2004 - involves reconstruction of farmland into the type of native lowland and wetland ecosystem once widespread but now rare in the Waikato region. Some 25 hectares of the site has been planted so far.

The money will be paid in roughly equivalent annual amounts over four years subject to satisfactory progress reports.

Established in 2005, the natural heritage fund is designed to protect and manage, in perpetuity, special places of ecological significance.

Key priorities include the preservation of access to waterways and the coast, as well as protection of biodiversity, heritage sites and landscapes of significance to the community. Natural heritage projects are expected to have very long term, inter-generational benefits.

The fund has earlier been used on projects such as the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, the Waipa peat lakes reserves and the purchase of the Ed Hillary Hope Reserve.