1st July 2012
Situated 10 kilometres west of Invercargill, Otatara is home to a very committed group of people who demonstate just how effective a community can be when they get together in pursuit of a common goal. The Otatara Landcare Group was established in 1999 following a community meeting to discuss the local environment and identify what could be done by local people to improve it.
The following year the '2000 in 2000 Project' was undertaken at Bushy Point. The aim was for every Otatara resident to plant a tree in the year 2000! The success of this early work led to a longer term commitment. After negotiation with the Department of Conservation, the Otatara Landcare Group signed a lease agreement to manage 14 hectares of grazing land on the edge of the New River Estuary. The intention was to return this area to a natural state through the reintroduction of native plants. So the Group took over management of the area and the 'Bushy Point Restoration Project' was underway.
Specific aims of the 'Bushy Point Restoration Project' included linking two nationally significant areas of remnant native totara forest and to provide an extended habitat for birds and other native species. Also, to raise public awareness of the importance of native forest remnants and to provide a practical long term ecological project for residents of Otatara and local school children.
With a passionate and committed community behind the project much has been achieved. Over 1000 native plants have been planted each year by community volunteers. A public walking track has been created and maintained, with interpretation signs located along the way. A pond has been excavated to provide a focal point and encourage greater biodiversity. With the help of Environment Southland pest control officers the Group's volunteers also set up and maintain animal pest control over the surrounding 90 hectares of bush and estuary edge.
In 2011 the Otatara Landcare Group, with assistance from DOC, Environment Southland and Living Legends ran a successful Living Legends planting at Bushy Point. Over 200 people attended and 5000 plants were planted by volunteers in one day. The Otatara Landcare Group continues to advocate for nature in a number of other ways - most recently the publication of "Natural Otatara" and support of the Otatara Pestbusters project.
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