Joint effort to restore habitat

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 12:58 08/04/2014

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The region's conservation bodies are banding together to restore around six hectares of selected island margins in the Waimea Inlet in order to protect rare native plants and improve habitat for threatened species.

Last week members of the informal Waimea Inlet Forum toured the estuary's edges, sharing notes and surveying new and established restoration projects.

The forum and the Tasman Environmental Trust have applied to various funding agencies for grants to cover the extensive Waimea Inlet Coastal Margin Restoration Project.

Interim project manager Gillian Bishop said years of progressive development across the internationally important inlet had seen more than 90 per cent of estuary saltmarsh lost and a scant 227 hectares of the original estimated 3455ha of native vegetation remain.

The community is invited to take part in the project which aims to use eco-sourced plants to revegetate those coastal margins considered the most ecologically important including planting 6ha of coastal margins on selected islands. The first phase of the project would see an information review and an ecological assessment that will guide the project for its initial three years. The work will be a carried out by volunteers, contracted workers and stakeholders.

Bishop said the project would also work with the Department of Conservation, Tasman District Council, Nelson-Marlborough Fish and Game, Forest and Bird and recreational groups.

"The work will not only be about clearing, weeding and planting but informing the community about he estuarine environment," Bishop said.

DOC Motueka partnerships ranger Al Check said the organisation was also doing a wider stocktake of the estuary's ecological values with input from Ministry of Primary Industry, Cawthron Institute and Niwa. "We plan to put it all together, along with where the community groups are working and look for gaps and how those gaps can be filled."

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