Biodiversity wins funding across the region
Vital protection and restoration projects targeting Canterbury’s indigenous biodiversity and environmental health are getting further support as funding has been allocated for the coming year.
The total funding allocated to targeted biodiversity projects for 2023 is just over $1.1M and covers a broad range of focus areas; including braided river revival projects, wetlands, fish habitat and passage, habitat restoration, and regionwide terrestrial projects.
Additionally, staff will continue to monitor projects completed in previous years, as well as implement ongoing biodiversity projects funded from previous years.
Our Regional Leader of Biodiversity Shaun Burkett said the coming year is an important one for a number of initiatives seeking to better protect our natural environment across the region.
"Our main focus is to protect and maintain what biodiversity remains, and to achieve this we need to be efficient with ratepayer money and effective with the biodiversity interventions that are implemented.
"Many of these projects are ongoing and multi-year agreements which emphasise our long-term commitment to the community. We continue to engage with the relevant landowners, rūnanga, agencies, and other key stakeholders to ensure that project outcomes are met," he said.
Canterbury is host to two-thirds of the braided rivers in New Zealand. Braided rivers are not only a naturally uncommon ecosystem type but are classified as threatened due to various pressures they are under – ranging from weed invasion and predators.
This work helps ensure the protection of some of our most unique and endangered species. A total of $335,000 has been allocated to support these projects across the region and is matched by other contributions both financial, in-kind and volunteer. The projects include:
- Clarence Waiau Toa: black-fronted tern predator control, assisting safe nesting islands
- Ashley Rakahuri and Cass rivers: post-flooding invertebrate recovery
- Rakaia River: predator control for braided river bird conservation
- Rakaia and Rangitata rivers: weed control and South Island pied oystercatcher breeding success, seasonal movements, and predator monitoring.
Wetlands loss in Canterbury over the past 200 years has been extreme and is estimated nationally to be about 90 per cent. They are now some of our rarest and most at-risk ecosystems. A total of $110,000 has been allocated to support these projects.
Focusing on the protection of biodiversity values and ecological function contained within wetlands, here are some of the projects included this year:
- Willow weed control at a 110ha wetland near Hanmer Springs
- An ongoing weed control programme at Shipleys wetlands in Christchurch
- Coleridge Downs wetlands, woody weed control in the upper Rakaia.
This work programme is a regional biodiversity fish habitat initiative which provides a coordinated region-wide approach to identifying, prioritising, and remediating fish habitat including fish passage.
- Culvert remediation in a tributary of the Waiau Uwha to restore native fish passage to spring heads
- Reconnecting Wairewa to the ocean, allowing long-term recruitment and migration
- Weir remediation in Allendale stream on Banks Peninsula.
- Willow control and planting along Taiko Stream as part of an ongoing programme to protect the threatened (nationally critical) Canterbury mudfish population
- Maintaining spring head integrity for endangered pencil galaxias spawning through willow control and planting at the Chain Hills wetland in the Upper Waitaki.
- Using eDNA to investigate the presence of the four species of longjaw galaxias in the upper Waitaki, Rangitata, Rakaia, and Hurunui River catchments
- Looking at the age and growth rate of trout in a Mackenzie Basin stream. Part of a larger project including the installation of a weir and removal of trout in Forks Stream to protect alpine, bignose, and lowland longjaw galaxias from depredation and competition by trout.
Canterbury Biodiversity Strategy
The purpose of the Canterbury Biodiversity Strategy (CBS) fund is to implement the CBS. The guiding priority principle is 'focus first on protecting and maintaining what remains, and then on restoring what has been lost.'
The budget for this workstream is $200,000 which will enable 12 high biodiversity value projects, including:
- Threatened braided river bird habitat in Hakatere/Ashburton River
- Matuku/bittern protection at Te Waihora through predator control and monitoring
- Pekepeka/long-tailed bat (threatened - nationally critical) protection through predator control.
Regional priority projects
This workstream delivers landscape-scale, multiyear biodiversity projects on sites with high biodiversity values where threats can be addressed by non-regulatory action. Sites have been identified across braided rivers, wetlands, and other freshwater ecosystems.
A total of $300,000 has been allocated to 12 projects across the region. These include:
- River bird protection on the Hurunui/Waiau river involving braided river island enhancement, predator trapping and monitoring. This aims to improve the breeding success of black-fronted terns and other river birds, ultimately increasing populations
- Weed control at the Rakaia Gorge, Mt Potts, and in the Upper Waimakariri and the Upper Dobson catchments to restore and enhance the braided river ecosystem values
- Maintaining the wetland values of the 1,500-hectare Grey’s Hill wetland in the Mackenzie Basin.
Project effectiveness monitoring programme
In addition to implementing projects, our staff also monitor and reassess previously completed biodiversity projects. This is done to assess how effective the project was in achieving the expected outcomes, or whether the project is on its way to achieving its outcomes.
This is achieved by assessing standardised outcomes against project actions undertaken such as fencing, weed control, planting, pest and predator trapping; for example, to what extent has weed control reduced or eliminated the presence of the targeted weed species. The longer-term effectiveness is assessed using factors such as the wider ecological context and connectivity and ongoing management, such as legal protection and ongoing active site management.
To date, 55 projects have been monitored and a further 20 have been identified to be monitored this year. Previous assessments show that projects we have undertaken score highly in both medium and long-term effectiveness, and this information is used to guide which projects we undertake.