Green-corridor sanctuary

By Stephanie Arthur-Worsop

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New plans have been announced for a long-term conservation project in Te Awanga that will breathe life into its farmlands and create a ``corridor'' for native birdlife.

The Clifton County Cricket Club has partnered with Hawke's Bay Regional Council, DoC, land owners the Nilsson family and Pollen Workshop to instigate a long-term plan aimed at reviving the eco-system in the area.

Project co-ordinator Kate Howard said the land was chosen as it had large natural springs and wetlands ideal for planting. ``There has been a really positive response from the likes of DoC because the location is already a natural habitat for native birds.''

The project also has a role in a larger strategy designed to create a ``corridor'' from Cape Sanctuary to the Ruahine Range. ``Through the creation of this sanctuary, we are providing protected feeding stops for birds as they travel to and from the ranges.''

Mrs Howard said while the project was important for the protection of native animals in the area, plants for food and shelter needed to be introduced first. ``Planting and growing native trees and bushes will provide shelter and food for wildlife. The more varieties and species of trees we can plant, the better the birds will be able to keep nourished all year round.''

The club is already frequented by native birds including brown teal, dab chick, Australasian bittern, fern bird, tui, bellbird and kereru. Species being reintroduced at the Cape Sanctuary are also expected to appear as the park develops _ these include kakariki and saddleback.

Regional council land services manager Campbell Leckie said the club was able to access funding for the project through the Regional Landcare Scheme. ``The council has agreed to provide $4500 from the Regional Landcare Scheme to assist the club's restoration activities.''

The council has also contributed traps for predator control targeting ferrets, stoats, weasels and feral cats.

Mr Leckie said as well as funding, the council provided expert advice for organisers of conservation projects. ``The regional council plays a role in the funding aspects of conservation projects in the area but we are also able to provide technical advice about land management and biosecurity.''

In the early stages of the project, the majority of volunteers for planting will be made up of club members and the Te Awanga community.

``Community involvement will start with the club, the schools and the areas with proximity and usage of the grounds,'' Mrs Howard said, ``but hopefully we will expand on this in time and it will become a social event that people use to learn, plant and watch the habitat grow''.

As a part of a long-term plan designed by Pollen Workshop, the club aims to develop walking tracks around the grounds, and create a cycle way to link up with the Hawke's Bay Trail between Te Awanga and Tuki Tuki Rd.

``This is a really engaging project because it is in a prime area and is a chance to get the community involved, particularly those closest to the grounds that will get optimum usage out of the park,'' Mrs Howard said.

The first planting day is August 18.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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