The third and final wave of planting is about to go ahead in a conservation project that will transform 25 hectares of Queen Elizabeth Park from highly modified peat land into forest and wetland supporting native plants and animals while absorbing greenhouse gases.
The QEP North Eastern Restoration Plan has been made possible by a $300,000 donation from Kāpiti locals Chris and Sam Maclean through their Maclean Trust.
It provides a restoration blueprint for the Mataihuka wetlands site, which lies at the north-eastern boundary of the park with State Highway 1 to its east and Poplar Ave to its north.
The transformation of the area will take six years.
It started with the development of a restoration plan which focuses on hydrology, soil profiling and species selection and has now moved on to planting.
To ensure the planting area remains in optimal condition animal and weed control will be carried out for three years after the conclusion of planting at the end of this month.
"This highly visible section of the park will serve as a conservation showcase which we believe will inspire other philanthropists and public bodies to invest more widely in restoring the regional environment," said Maclean Trust's Chris Maclean.
"We hope our investment will become a catalyst for positive change in rolling back decades of environmental modification, leading to opportunities for habitat restoration and nature-based recreation."
The third year of planting under the plan will build on extensive re-planting of native species such as kanuka, manuka, ti kouka (cabbage tree) and harakeke (flax), and lead to significantly enhanced biodiversity and improved water quality.
Initial planting of around 14 pioneer species such as manuka and kanuka has begun to thrive, providing shelter for species such as kahikatea, pukatea, kohekohe and titoki.
Experience gained over the first two years in restoring wetlands which have recently gained greater protection under Greater Wellington's Proposed Natural Resources Plan, has led to positive modifications to the plan to include more extensive planting of locally sourced manuka.
"We are really thankful for the generosity and far-sightedness of the Maclean Trust," said Environment Committee chairwoman and Kāpiti Regional councillor Penny Gaylor.
"They've set the standard for future restoration and we hope the North Eastern restoration plan will be a forerunner of more extensive restoration in the park."
Greater Wellington is reviewing opportunities that will both scale up carbon capture and deliver accessible, thriving environments.
"Increased scale will over time give us the benefits of more carbon capture for climate change mitigation plus further environmental restoration and great opportunities for recreation," said Ms Gaylor.