A large number of rectangular shapes that have killed off weeds and grass are part of a conservation project in Queen Elizabeth Park.

The Maclean Trust restoration works will transform 25 hectares of the park from highly modified peat land into forest and wetland supporting native plants and animals while absorbing greenhouse gases.

The markings will keep "competition from weeds and grass at a minimum to give the plants a good start in life", a Greater Wellington Regional Council spokesman said.

Markings identify where planting will take place.
Markings identify where planting will take place.

Plantings are expected between now and mid-August "allow plant establishment ahead of spring winds and summer dryness".


The regional council would also "undertake some rabbit and hare control via managed shooting to reduce the impact on the new plants".

"This site will evolve over the next few years and begin to look like the emerging forest that is becoming visual along Poplar Ave."

The park's north eastern restoration plan has been made possible by a $300,000 donation from 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 conclusion of planting in July.

"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," Chris said.

"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 about 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.