SERN Field trip to Curio Bay and Waipapa Point 5 Nov 2011

Inclement weather conditions of hail, rain and wind were braved by about 30 members of Southland Ecological Restoration Network ( SERN) on 5 Nov as they explored sites on the south coast.

Environment Southland’s Nathan Cruikshank explained the work they are doing at Black Lagoon, in the Titiroa area with fencing, removal of crack willows and riparian plantings of about 1250 natives such as broadleaf and Pittosperum to date. ‘’More plantings are planned later around the lagoon on this Mataura River flood plain area with the biggest issues being pest management, releasing the plants from weeds as they grow and keeping stock out, ‘’ he said.

The Forest and Bird Ericson memorial pingao restoration site, adjacent to the Waipapa Point lighthouse, was the next stop with botanist Brian Rance sharing information about the need to ensure this native plant’s special features and habitat are recognised and extended. ‘’ We are encouraging this native pingao to replace the introduced and rapidly encroaching marram,’’he said.

Brian Rance shares information about the pingao restoration project
at the Waipapa Point lighthouse site with warmly clad members

One of the Equity Managers involved in South Coast Dairies, Lyndsay Stratford explained their commitment to riparian fencing and native plantings and fencing off a wetland and native podocarp bush area which have all contributed to improved water quality. Changing from a beef and sheep property to dairy has brought new challenges but installing a stock water scheme, doing native plantings around a reservoir and ensuring they have 120 days storage for effluent rather than just the mandatory 90 days gives them more options. ‘’We can wait until scientifically monitored soil and weather conditions are more suitable before we irrigate meaning we can manage effluent discharge effectively,’’ she said.’’ We try very hard not to cause any bad effects, doing it right from the start and teaching by example, with a lot of help from local authorities staff such as Environment Southland.’’

At Curio Bay, South Catlins Development Trust has purchased an area of about 15 hectares of podocarp forest, fenced it and are planning to put a walkway through with interpretation panels. This newly protected area of living forest is adjacent to the Curio Bay petrified forest, making it more significant as a link. Trust Chair Greta Buckingham explained the differences they have seen already in the regeneration of the rata, manuka and rimu forest, now stock has been removed. ‘’Pest control and fundraising are the main activities at present with everyone welcome to join in the mystery challenge event soon,’’ she said.

‘’It was a very informative and enjoyable day ,in spite of the weather , ‘’ SERNs Chair Gay Munro said. ‘’We appreciate the financial support from Environment Southland which enables us to have a bus and to talk to people as we travel.’’