Full budget of $50k to be spent on protecting habitat of river birds

8:42 pm on 6 June 2023

By David Hill, Local democracy reporter

Fairy tern with chicks at Mangawhai

A black-fronted tern with her chicks. Photo: Sioux Plowman

An initiative to protect native birds on the Waiau Uwha River is set to receive a funding boost.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) has decided to allocate its entire 2022/23 Hurunui Waiau Uwha Water Zone action budget of $50,000 to its ''flagship'' Hurunui Waiau Braided River Birds programme on the Hurunui and Waiau Uwha Rivers.

Andrew Arps from Environment Canterbury - single use only

Andrew Arps Photo: LDR / David Hill

North Canterbury zone delivery manager Andrew Arps said the decision had been made following consultation with the Hurunui District Council, in the absence of a zone committee in the district.

"All the zone committees receive $50,000 to support projects in their local areas, but because we don't have a Hurunui zone committee we decided to use the funding to support our flagship programme."

The project began in 2017 to protect the habitat for black-fronted terns and black-billed gulls on the Hurunui and Waiau Uwha Rivers.

Work has been carried out on Sharkstooth Island on the Waiau Uwha River to protect the birds and keep predators away from nesting sites.

Enhancements included raising the island, weed and pest control, and trapping lines installed on land opposite the island to prevent pests swimming across.

Sharkstooth Island on the Waiau Uwha River

Work is continuing to protect endangered birds on Sharkstooth Island on the Waiau Uwha River. Photo: Supplied / Environment Canterbury

The announcement followed confirmation of nearly $2 million in government funding to support farmers with erosion-prone land in the Hurunui district, extending the Soil Conservation and Revegetation (SCAR) Programme until 2027.

Arps said work was also continuing on the Me Uru Rākau project centred on the confluence of the Mason and Leader Rivers.

Work planned over the next 12 months included a predator control programme with Waiau School, fencing to protect native forest, planting projects, woody weed control and wetlands restoration.

ECan was collaborating with the Hurunui District Landcare Group to engage with 13 farmer catchment groups in the Waiau Uwha area, each with six to eight farms, to identify any issues.

Arps said ECan preferred to work alongside farmers and landowners to ensure they were complying with the regulations.

''There is a lot happening on the ground and in the advisory space with new regulations in place, so we want to make sure people understand what they are and aren't able to do.

''We might have our disagreement, but when you look further out people's goals and aspirations tend to align in the longer term.

''We all want a healthy environment and we want people to be doing well.''

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