SERN Spring Field Trip 2017 - Eastern Southland
Despite the weather being cold and at times windy and wet, 30 hardy people set about exploring restoration sites in eastern Southland. The first stop was at Ruth and Monne Bruinsma’s farm at Kapuka. Ruth’s enthusiasm for the native riparian plantings and improving the natural habitat on their dairy farm was obvious. The work they started has been assisted through the DOC/Fonterra Living Waters programme. Cain Duncan, Fonterra, explained how they had funded further riparian plantings so that there would be connectivity between the remnants of forest on the Bruinsma property, along with the benefits to water quality. Ruth said they were also keen to improve fish access and habitat with regards to an old duckshooting pond close to the stream, which was recently surveyed for fish life, but showed no kokopu, koura or eels present. The next stop was at O’Neills Bush, on an Environment Southland lease block near the Titiroa River. Recollections were made of the early days when plantings were undertaken around the open north and east side there by the three local schools. Richard Bowman, ES Biosecurity Manager talked about the council’s recognition of the wetland and estuary edge values also found on these lower Mataura lease blocks and the intention to protect them further. The establishment of a Possum Control Area across the lease lands had seen over 2,000 possums removed this year and they were looking at mustelid, cat and rat control as well. During lunch at the Waimahaka Hall, we heard from Jesse Bythell, QEII National Trust representative for Southland. Also from Sheryll Ashton, Invercargill City Council, about the environmental focus that was going on in the city with Thomsons Bush, Anderson Park and the estuary, as well as significant plans for the ongoing restoration of Sandy Point. At Beggs Bush, Braid Rd, Fortification, we were met by the Beggs Bush Landcare Group members, a very dedicated team. This DOC forest reserve was donated to the people of New Zealand by Marie-Ellen Beggs father in the 1970’s and after years overseas, Marie-Ellen returned to check it out and decided there was work to do. An area at the entrance that had been planted out in pines, harvested about 6 years ago, with gorse taking their place, has been revegetated very successfully, thanks to the hard work of the group and others they have had give a helping hand, including Menzies College and the Toe Toe Lions Club. They are developing a rough track up in to the bush and are happy for people to explore their area there. The final stop was to the south end of the Wyndham Wildlife Refuge, where native plantings were started 25 years ago by local resident, Alan Leitch. A mown track through the plantings of ribbonwood, pittosporum, kowhai, coprosma, broadleaf, along with bulk plantings of flax, gave us a very pleasant end to the day as the weather cleared, and we wallked through basking in the warmth of the sunshine. Unfortunately lack of time prevented us from viewing the north end but we look forward to that next time. Thanks to all those who made the day possible, with special thanks to Environment Southland for sponsoring the bus.