Protecting the Waiau Toa/Clarence River moves forward

Taking on the Waiau Toa/Clarence River Weed and Pest Management project is destined to be a career highlight for Kaikōura biosecurity officer Jan Crooks.

"To have some sort of involvement in a project of this scale is so mind boggling and exciting.  There's so much good stuff happening in the Waiau Toa/Clarence River catchment," she said.

In 2012, the Kaikōura Water Zone Committee identified protecting the biodiversity and natural landscape of the Waiau Toa/Clarence River as one of its key priorities.

The Waiau Toa/Clarence River catchment is home to at least 100 threatened or at-risk plant species, some of which, up until recently, were thought to be extinct.   There are also records of 13 threatened or “at-risk” bird species, 3 lizard species, 10 freshwater fish species and an unknown number of invertebrate.

Weeds biggest threat to Waiau Toa/Clarence River

One of the biggest threats to the Waiau Toa/Clarence River is the intrusion of weeds.

In 2014, work began on the development of a collaborative Weed and Pest Management Plan for the catchment. 

Jan was involved in the initial mapping of the catchment with Environment Canterbury biodiversity advisor Steve Palmer but hasn't been involved since.

Jan Crooks - Kaikōura biosecurity officer

"It's so exciting to be involved in this project again.  It's such a big deal for Kaikōura and is a really great opportunity in my career," she said.

Jan will initially meet with landowners and see what weed control they are currently doing.  Those conversations, along with the results of a weed survey, will help determine what sort of weed management will occur and what should be prioritised in the coming years.

"I'd like to see them eradicate low incident pests up there, reduce the impact of gorse and broom as much as possible, and support some of those special species- whether they be plant or bird life- in the catchment.

"The weed survey is going to be a huge planning tool and we should be able to see what causes the most grief in the Waiau Toa/Clarence River and jump on those fairly smartly," she said.

Part one of the survey looking at the upper part of the catchment has been completed, while part two focusing on the lower part of the catchment will occur this financial year.