Jed River Catchment Project receives support for regeneration

Our Hurunui Waiau Uwha Zone Delivery Team has been working with the Jed River Catchment Group to support the restoration and enhancement of the Jed River.

Willow removal and planting in the Hutchison Reserve (Jed River, Cheviot) will support native biodiversity in the area.

Department of Conservation have also been supporting the mahi of this project, which includes willow control, planting and maintenance.

The Jed River flows under State Highway 1 on the south side of Cheviot township, through the Cheviot Hills Reserve and out towards Gore Bay. This project is taking place in Woolshed Creek/Hutchison Reserve - a tributary of the river.

The catchment is home to a range of different landscapes and species such as lamprey, freshwater mussels, native birds, dryland ecosystems, wetlands, hill country and of course, coastal.

Environment Canterbury's Zone Priority Fund is supporting the Jed River Catchment Group with $35,000 towards chemical free willow control, planting and maintenance on a 200-metre stretch of the river in the Hutchison Reserve area. The funding will be split over two years.

Our land management advisor Sam Thompson said the project will contribute to the overall health of the stream and enable the natural character of the river to regenerate.

"Removal of exotic willows and the replacement of native species will support indigenous species of birds, fish and insects to thrive in the area," he said.

"With the project being led by the community, they'll be able to connect with this wonderful awa/river and see it transform back to its natural state."

Community efforts for the catchment

This work is being undertaken by the Jed River Catchment Group, whose vision statement is to restore the health and wellbeing of the mauri/life force of the Jed River catchment to the most natural and healthy state possible for the betterment of all present and future generations.

The water quality of the Jed River has raised community concern in the past, due to its poor visual appearance and historical public health warnings in relation to wastewater discharges.

In August 2019, the Cheviot community launched the beginnings of a plan to restore the Jed River and its tributaries. Thus, the Jed River Catchment Group was formed.

Sam said targeting willows was chosen as a priority by the catchment group, as the trees form dense stands, overtaking other vegetation, and have the potential to change the route of the main channel of the river.

"This can cause flooding and erosion issues, especially where the banks of waterways are already vulnerable. The willow leaves also drop into the river and can reduce water quality and oxygen levels, which is essential for the life within these streams," he said.

"Willows have a place on the land and for water management, but the banks of the Jed River aren't it."

Reverting the river back to its natural state

Mechanical weed control (cut and remove) was completed earlier this year and a community planting day will follow.

Tōtara, mataī, tītoki, ribbonwood/mānatu and lacebark/houhere are just some of the native species being planted in the reserve.

Sam said it's been great working with such a motivated community and he's looking forward to seeing further advancements on catchment-wide regeneration for the Jed River.

"The catchment group have put a significant amount of time into the project, so it's great to be able to support them to further their vision for the Jed River and its tributaries," he said.

Aligning with regional targets

The Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan promotes the sustainable management of rivers and streams and groundwater in the Hurunui, Waiau and Jed River catchments.

Weed control is just one way that the values of these rivers can be impacted. The catchment group is trialing chemical free weed control, after kōrero with Ngāti Kuri.

Management of woody weeds such as willow, is also a priority in the Hurunui Waiau Zone Implementation Plan (ZIP), which was created by the (now disbanded) Hurunui Waiau Uwha Water Zone Committee, to support the community in meeting the targets in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS).

The CWMS was established in 2009 to provide a collaborative way of addressing water management issues, to enable present and future generations to gain the greatest social, economic, recreational and cultural benefits from Canterbury's water resources.

Find out more

If you're a landowner or part of a community group or organisation looking for some support for your environmental project, go to our types-of-support page or contact us.

Photo credit: Jed River Catchment Group