Lizards get the rock star treatment

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2014

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The Christchurch City Council is working to protect native lizards on the Port Hills while mitigating rockfall risk.

The council has been working since the earthquakes to minimise the risk of rockfall by scaling loose and unsafe rock.

The work has to be carried out in a way that ensures it does not endanger native lizards that live on the Port Hills.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) approved a Wildlife Act authority to allow the council to transfer lizards from a proposed work site to a safe habitat nearby.

DOC conservation partnerships manager for North Canterbury Leonie Fechney said the approval applied to the Canterbury gecko, common skink and McCann's skink. Canterbury geckos are found only on Banks Peninsula and the Canterbury Plains.

Fechney said DOC recognised "the importance of the work to address risk to public safety in the Port Hills and the need to balance this with potential effects on native wildlife".

There are also plans to use some of the loose rock to create a new habitat for the lizards in an attempt to offset habitat loss from the rock stabilisation work.

Council unit manager transport and greenspace John Mackie said lizards and their habitats might be disturbed by the rockfall mitigation work.

"We're working with DOC about ways we can use this rock to create new habitats for lizards," he said.

"In some cases, we will move lizards to a safer location."

He said the council sought to balance conservation and addressing the rockfall hazard for the public.

Mackie said the ecological concerns had not delayed the work programme.

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- The Press

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