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Ready to restore . . . A 1.8km stretch of waterway will soon be restored by a group of 12 Fernside landowners. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By DAVID HILL

A group of Waimakariri landowners are working to restore a local waterway.

Twelve lifestyle block owners and farmers on Easterbrook Road have teamed up to restore a 1.8km waterway which flows from a springhead near the Number Four Drain to Fernside Road, near Rangiora.

The group received $49,710 of Immediate Steps funding from the Waimakariri Zone Committee to pay for native plants, plant guards and maintenance.

Landowners are contributing more than $125,000 of “in kind” resources to the riparian planting project.

The waterway flows into the Southbrook Stream before joining the Cam River further downstream.

Environment Canterbury Waimakariri zone biodiversity officer Jason Butt says the project is “an excellent example” of what can be achieved when a diverse group of landowners work collectively to protect the environment.

“With everyone working together on this project, we’ll be able to protect and enhance a significant portion of this waterway right from the springhead source of this stream.

“This committed group of landowners are keen to improve the habitat value of their local waterway and they’ll be able to support each other throughout the process.

“They’re hoping to see the return of native species such as kekewai (freshwater crayfish) in the future.”

Jason and the landowners will start site preparation work over the next two months, with planting set for spring.

The springhead is surrounded by a small wetland and contains several native plants, including Carex sinclarii (swamp sedge), which is rare on the Canterbury Plains.

With only 10 percent of New Zealand’s wetland’s remaining, Jason says it is vital to protect what is left to improve our waterways.

“Improving the management of the springhead and wetland area will result in a degree of buffering from the effects of adjacent land use for the waterway, while the planting will provide improved habitat for fauna.

“Riparian planting provides shade for the stream, which will reduce the water temperature and decrease the amount of exotic weed growth.

“A wider range of plant species will increase habitat value and we’ll also include a number of sediment traps to improve the in-stream habitat.”