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Land restoration projects given green light

File photo.

Two projects aiming to plant 247,000 native trees and develop skills and employment, as part of the One Billion Trees programme, were announced today by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will provide just over $2.2 million to plant 247,000 native trees in two areas - Punakaiki on the West Coast and Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury.

“Planting these native trees has multiple benefits. It’s good for the economy and for our regional communities through creating jobs, providing skills training and enhancing ecological tourism opportunities in the regions.

“It will also help us meet our climate change objectives and provide conservation benefits as we restore native forests and create habitats for threatened birds and other native wildlife,” Shane Jones said.

“The programmes will include a number of ecological and pest control initiatives which will involve a range of partners across local communities, government, volunteer groups, and landowners. It will be a real community approach.

“Each initiative focuses on developing skills and employment. In Punakaiki, planting will enable an expansion of the Conservation Work Skills programme for school leavers and unemployed youth who will gain work skills and improve their employment prospects. The restoration will benefit tourism and support and enhance a whitebait breeding ground.

“Restoration programmes like these are a fundamental part of the One Billion Trees programme, not only to help us reach our tree planting target over the next ten years but as a way to support a community’s social, economic, and cultural wellbeing,” Shane Jones said.

Eugenie Sage said that at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere 34 hectares of kahikatea forest would be restored by the Department of Conservation on sites adjacent to the lake.

'Te Waihora is one of the country’s largest coastal wetland areas. The lake’s shoreline was once covered with native forest. Now there’s barely any kahikatea swamp forest left in the whole of Canterbury so restoring kahikatea forest on the shores of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere has huge conservation and cultural value.

“Te Waihora is a taonga and very significant site for Ngāi Tahu, including Taumutu, Wairewa and other papatipu rūnanga. The planting project adds to the work Ngāi Tahu are doing to document, protect and restore the cultural and ecological values of the lake. The new forest will create habitat for native birds and fish and improve the health of the lake,” Eugenie Sage said.

“Punakaiki is the only place in the country where tāiko, the Westland petrel, breeds.

Planting native trees on the Punakaiki coastal flats should help increase the population of this at-risk native species by enhancing its breeding habitat.”


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