A new milestone for the Upper Whitestone river and for us!

19 Aug 2015 by The Million Metres team queenelizabeth Southland

In a huge and exciting milestone for the Million Metres Streams Project, the Tributaries of the Whitestone restoration project near Te Anau has got its plants in the ground in August. It’s the first project of several that we’ve funded to do so, and we hope the first of many!

12 volunteers, 1400 plants, 2 hectares of stream bank

Over five chilly days in August, 1400 plants were grounded alongside the Fredburn stream and an un-named tributary of the Whitestone river. Two hectares of riparian corridor were covered by 12 volunteers including our own Rebecca and Claire.

Another step towards the restoration of the Upper Whitestone catchment

This planting represents an advance towards the goal of improving the water quality and biodiversity of the Whitestone river catchment - a part of the Waiau Catchment, Southland’s largest.

Located on Landcorp’s Dale Farm on land formerly used for deer farming, the riparian strips were fenced in 2004 by the Waiau Wildlife and Fisheries Enhancement Trust. The entire riparian project, encompassing many kilometres of streams on the Dale Farm, has been spearheaded by QEII National Trust’s Waiau representative Mark Sutton in collaboration with successive Landcorp farm managers.

It's thanks to Mark's passion and enthusiasm that the plants from Home Creek Nursery were already on site, and 12 volunteers showed up in chilly zero degree temperatures armed with spades. Now, the likes of makomako, manuka, manatu, kowhai, kohuhu, toetoe, mingimingi, flax and carex have all been planted and are anchoring their roots into the stony soil. 

Mark said the planting project, and Landcorp’s commitment to it, was achieving impressive results.

“It works. Most Landcorp properties in the Te Anau basin/Waiau catchment, Dale Farm included, are already working towards being ecologically intact by fencing waterways. Not only that, Landcorp has retired a lot of land to prevent nutrient runoff getting into waterways, returning them to what they were in the past.

There did not have to be a “push-pull” relationship between productivity and environmental outcomes, said Mr Sutton.

“Landcorp have shown over the past 15 years that you can have the best of both worlds. They’ve managed to retire significant areas of land near waterways while actually increasing their stocking rate.

“Landcorp’s farm managers are the unsung heroes – they show that good farm management is based on sound ecological outcomes. They recognise that it does take time but it’s definitely worth it. People like [current farm manager] Ian Matthews aren’t scared of it, or of putting in the hard work.”

Congratulations to Mark for seeing this through over the years - we hope to see Mark and Dale Farm back with millionmetres.org.nz again next year.

Further Million Metres Streams Projects planting soon

Other projects scheduled to get their plants in soon are the Waikohu Tributary near Gisborne and Kiwitea River tributary project in the Manawatu. Both projects are planning to plant when the winter frosts are over. Watch this space!