Planting project aimed at improving habitat

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Green fingers . Planting contractor Chris Goad (left) and dairy farmer Frances Coles have worked together on a project to replant native species along Ohapi Creek, near Orari. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Al Williams

Freshwater crayfish, edible watercress and eels have been found in a springwater creek in Orari following a native species planting project.
Farmers have partnered with the Orari-Opihi-Temuka-Pareora water zone committee to plant 4000 native plants along the banks of Ohapi Creek in an effort to safeguard water quality and improve the habitat for native species.
Planting contractor Chris Goad carried out most of the planting for dairy farmers Frances and Aaron Coles.
Ms Goad said she had already noticed positive changes in terms of native regrowth.
“Stock have been excluded and fenced back from this creek for a long time, so it was already very clean, but the natives are growing fast.
“In a few more years it will be really well-established.”
Ms Goad said she had some company while undertaking the year-long planting project, finding freshwater crayfish and encountering many native eels.
“I had an eel following me while grubbing around plants and then the next thing, it caught a trout.
“I’ve never seen that before.”
Mrs Coles, said the project was aimed at improving the land for future generations.
“It just makes sense to do our bit to leave the land in a better state than when we got it.
“It’s definitely a project that we are keen to get some community involvement with over time, as the plants get established.
“It would be quite cool to have school groups come along here and have a look at the habitat and how we are improving things and do a bit of a stream study.”
The Orari-Opihi-Temuka-Pareora water zone committee approved the funding of $9000, one-third of the total cost of the planting project, through its immediate steps programme, which supports on-the-ground actions to protect wetlands, springs, coastal streams, braided rivers, lakes and lowland streams.
Those actions include fencing and planting riparian buffer areas as well as weed and pest management.