SERN Spring Field Day 2008
The Waiau Catchment – Restoration from top to bottom. A bus load of restoration enthusiasts from various backgrounds - Forest & Bird, Men of the Trees, Hokonui Runaka, NZTCV, QEII National Trust, SIT Pestbusters and SERN associates, enjoyed a day of ecological enlightenment. The road to Manapouri took us past the Castledown limestone formation where the concern about the change to the south face was discussed in passing.
Once in Manapouri, we ventured down the hill to admire the work of the Weedbusters, hard at it clearing an area of weeds and replanting. Photos of before and after at Frasers Beach showed the extent of the work this group has undertaken. The lunchtime stop saw us addressed by Mark Sutton, Waiau Fisheries and Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Trust, at their major project, the Rakatu Wetlands. A walk to the top of the scarp to the lookout provided a great overview of the extensive open water wetland complex that has been developed here, which in a short time has become a major eel fishery. Other native fish also abound, along with many species of waterfowl.
Further south we visited the Dodd’s farm at Papatotara. Graeme and Dot won the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2007 and it is easy to see why. They have large areas of forest and manuka shrubland protected under QEII National Trust Covenant, which they are actively managing. In the past year they have trapped over 100 stoats from the area, and they are enjoying the rise in bird life as a result. As well as this they are undertaking Darwin’s barberry control where that weed has got in around the forest edges. Their streams are fenced and recently, working with Biodiversity Southland to gain assistance from the Biodiversity Condition Fund, they have been planting the riparian strip out with natives.
The final stop for the day was looking over the Te Wae Wae Lagoon and the lower Waiau floodplain. This area of pastoral land is owned by Meridian and the Waiau Trust now has the lease. Over the last few years there have been ponds created acorss this flat to see how well the area might be used by whitebait species. There has been a good response by the Galaxids and others, with the ponds having high numbers of fish in them. With the success of this work, the Waiau Trust is moving forward to create large water bodies in this lower floodplain and this coming summer a start will be made on this work to create a major fishery. This will in some part compensate for the loss of habitat that occurred when the mighty Waiau River was beheaded at the time of the Manapouri power station being built.
Many thanks to NZERN for their sponsorship of the bus for the day.