A series of biodiversity projects has improved awareness of the special values of streams and rivers throughout Waimakariri Irrigation Limited’s (WIL) catchment area.
The Waimakariri Irrigation Ltd Scheme is a shareholder-owned cooperative company with consent to take water 11.041 cumecs from the Waimakariri River.
Biodiversity project lead Dan Cameron said knowledge and understanding of the land and water contained within the company’s command area had grown exponentially since the initial biodiversity stock take of the scheme identified 297 sites of interest in 2018.
“We also identified four lowland freshwater stream systems, three of which were not widely known.”
Seven projects have started across four lowland stream catchments across the scheme, including two projects at Cust River, three projects at Burgess Stream and one project each at Old Eyre and Hunters streams.
Planting work started last week on one of the Burgess Stream projects; the first stage in a series of linked projects which aim to restore the length of the stream.
“Burgess Stream has presented us with a fantastic opportunity for WIL shareholders to enable catchment-scale restoration right from the beginning.”
While there have been many lessons learned along the way, it was very exciting to see everybody’s efforts turn the vision into a reality, Cameron said.
Work on Burgess Stream will protect the important values around the spring head and the area further downstream where the water leaves the company’s catchment area and flows through lifestyle blocks.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for the wider community to see the value in the work we are doing to protect the environment as the waterway literally flows through their properties.”
All shareholders Dan has worked with now have biodiversity plans in place that enable them to comply with regulatory requirements around biodiversity and freshwater.
These plans also provide evidence of shareholders’ environmental guardianship and a willingness to be proactive in terms of enhancing streams and waterways on, or near landowner’s properties.
“Landowners can also use this documentation to apply for funding from other sources to continue on with their environmental improvement projects on-farm, so the biodiversity plans are useful for a myriad of different purposes. Some landowners have been able to secure up to 50 per cent of the funding required for their projects,” Cameron said.
“The biodiversity plans also help to identify action points which can be woven into a Farm Environment Plan, such as planting and stock exclusion which can deal with point source issues.”
Dan said that, based on what he had seen throughout the entire scheme, Waimakariri Irrigation Ltd was truly leading the way in terms of the holistic approach it was taking to enhance biodiversity and improve the ecological values of land and waterways in its catchment area.
‘We are also building strong community relationships and providing hands-on learning opportunities for Waimakariri school children through our community outreach project with West Eyreton School.”
• Shareholders who would like assistance with putting together a biodiversity plan for their property can contact Dan Cameron via email – firstname.lastname@example.org