13th December 2011
Hamilton has an extensive network of gullies feeding into the Waikato River. Once regarded as waste areas or just convenient storm water channels, they are now valued as slices of nature in their own right. The Mangaiti Gully is no exception. A small stream meanders past back yards and in places is culverted under roads, yet much of the gully still retains its natural character despite the encroaching weeds and garden escapes.
Rex Bushell, one of the project coordinators describes the main achievements to date as clearing the near impenetrable tangle of honeysuckle which prevented access to the heart of the gully; creating access tracks and of course, replacing weeds with native plants in the ground.
Tui are regular visitors as are fantails, the tiny grey warbler, kingfishers, moreporks and the ubiquitous pukeko. To protect native birds, pest control experiments are underway for both rats and possums.
The project began in October 2009, with a community open day that included a range of guest speakers. The Hamilton City Council were on board right from the start and the relationship has proved a fruitful one. The council has supplied materials for the boardwalk, all of the native plants, a contractor to dig paths and spray weeds. There have been plenty of donations such as mulch, aggregate to weatherproof paths, shade cloth, weedmat and irrigation equipment for a shade house.
Weekly 3-hour working bees attract around 8 people. That means a lot of work can be done in a short time... for example one session saw a vast pile of donated mulch distributed around plants on a dry bank to improve survival rates over a long hot summer.
Most successful projects are well organised and this project is no exception. The aims of the project are to restore the native flora of upper Mangaiti Park gully back to pre European status and to sustainably manage it in such a way that native fauna will re establish, either naturally or by introduction.
To achieve the vision a series of key factors have been identified:
- Good planning.
- Community involvement
- Resources and funding
- Create an educational resource
- Generate a local urban resource
- Good Governance
NZ Landcare Trust will take a party on a field trip to the gully on 28 February 2012 as part of the build up to the National Landcare and Catchment Management Conference. More information about this is available from the Conference page.
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