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Update on NHF projects from 2021

Monday 19 December, 2022

Natural Heritage Fund 2021- update on funded projects

The Natural Heritage Fund (NHF) is an annual fund available to assist biodiversity-related projects on private land. In 2021 the fund was a total of $40,000.

Seven funding applications were approved to each receive a portion of the available funds.

The NHF is made available instead of rates remissions on a limited number of properties. Biodiversity protection and enhancement are core activities of regional and unitary councils.

Any privately owned land within the Gisborne district is eligible for funding.

The recommendation for the allocation of the Natural Heritage Fund is presented to the Operations Committee in November of each year for approval. Approved projects are to be completed in the following calendar year.

The following projects were allocated funds in the 2021 round of the Natural Heritage Fund and were completed within the 12-month timeframe;

Manuels (Keretu) Bush Fencing Project - Te Karaka. The owners of Hillview Station proposed to erect 800m of stock-proof fence to complete the fencing of an area of significant indigenous forest on the property. The area is identified in the Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan as a Protection Management Area (PMA). The majority of the 106ha highly significant forest had existing stock-proof fencing, however there remained a 37ha section that was partly unfenced. Manuels Bush is recognised as being the largest remnant of unlogged podocarp/broad-leafed forest in the area and stock-exclusion will give the understory a chance to regenerate. The fence was successfully completed in February 2021.

Kotare Station Fencing Project – Matawai. Henry and Sofie Gaddum of Kotare Station proposed to erect stock-proof fences around four areas of remnant and regenerating bush on their property totalling 4.4ha. The property borders the Urutawa Conservation Estate (adjacent to the Waioeka Gorge) and several natural areas on the property had previously been protected under QEII covenants. The areas proposed for fencing provide valuable links to these other highly significant areas. A total 813m of fencing was completed in January 2021.

Waihuka Wetland Restoration Project – Manutuke. Riversun Nursery Ltd has been undertaking a wetland restoration project at their property on Taurau Valley Road for many years. A QEII covenant is in place on the wetland which sits within part of the old bed of the Te Arai River. The wetland is now providing a diverse habitat for bird and aquatic life but the wetland continued to be under threat from heavy weed infestations. Weed control is a substantial ongoing cost.

Protection of natural wetlands is considered a top regional priority as only two per cent of original wetlands remain in the region. This project was granted funds to assist with weed control and maintenance work. By December 2021, two large exotic trees had been removed from the wetland, along with the felling and poisoning of other smaller willows, wattles and giant reed along the margins of the wetland.

Marumoko Road Swamp Restoration Project – Motu. The Fisher family of Motu proposed to regenerate a natural swamp area on their property at Marumoko Road. Swamps were once common throughout the Motu area, but the majority have been drained for farming. The Fishers’ swamp was still largely intact although it was grazed for many years up until 2019 when it was fenced for stock exclusion.

The swamp is in an area of high ecological value, being adjacent to a QEII block that has been undergoing intensive pest control. With stock excluded from the swamp, the next step was to undertake a planting and weed control programme in order to further enhance the site. In July 2021, 600 seedlings were planted in the swamp area – consisting of a mix of kahikatea, toetoe and Manuka.

Matokitoki Stream Riparian Project - Gisborne City. This project was based on an urban property through which a 240m section of the Matokitoki Stream meanders. The Matokitoki Stream enters the city boundary from Matokitoki Valley at the hospital, flowing past/through multiple urban properties before converging with the Taruheru River at Nelson Park.

The Matokitoki Stream provides a habitat for eels, is a known spawning site for whitebait and hosts a variety of aquatic invertebrates. However, as with many urban streams, the riparian margins are heavily degraded and infested with weeds. The applicants had previously undertaken restoration work along their section of the stream and proposed to further build on this with additional planting. By July 2021 over 600 native tree, shrub and flaxes have been planted along the applicant’s section of the riverbank and weed control is ongoing.

Wheatstone Road Wetland Restoration Project – Wainui. Tim Ronke of Wheatstone Road has a small pond and wetland area on his property. The pond is at the top of a small waterway that runs down Wheatstone Road and eventually feeds into the Wainui Stream. The project proposed fencing and planting of the area to exclude stock and create a filter for some of the stormwater that comes from the roadside drains to improve the water quality before it enters the Wainui Stream. The planted wetland and pond area will also provide a habitat for birds and insects.

This project was granted funds to assist with buying fencing materials, plants and doing weed control. By August 2021 the fence had been built, pest and weed control undertaken and a selection of native seedlings had been planted.

If you're planning a biodiversity project on your property, big or small, then the Natural Heritage Fund could be able to help you with up to 50 per cent of the costs of your project. There is now $100,000 available annually.

Applications are open from 1 August to 1 October each year, for projects to be undertaken the following calendar year. We encourage you to contact the Catchments and Biodiversity team for further information/advice or look on our website to see if your project may be eligible.

Natural Heritage Fund | Gisborne District Council (gdc.govt.nz)