Two priority biodiversity sites alongside State Highway 5 in Rotorua are set to have a protective boost with a new pest plant management programme kicking off in the area.
Funded by Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council, supported by Tipu Waiariki Charitable Trust and delivered by Te Arawa Lakes Trust, the new five year environmental programme aims to restore Five Mile and Eight Mile Gate wetlands, helping to improve water quality in Lake Rotorua by maximising nutrient uptake by the wetlands.
Five Mile and Eight Mile Gate are home to a variety of indigenous vegetation, as well as the endangered matātā (North Island fernbird) and the pūweto (spotless crake).
Te Arawa Lakes Trust biosecurity manager William Anaru said the kaupapa saw the Te Arawa Lakes Trust Jobs For Nature team undertake the extensive mahi required to protect and preserve the area.
"Our team has the experience, knowledge and genuine care for the whenua to do the mahi that is required.
"We need to work collaboratively – through mahi tahi we can protect our indigenous species and restore biodiversity in the area."
The Jobs For Nature team will work to eradicate pest plants such as grey willow, poplar, crack willow and wilding pines, and controlling other key weed species such as cotoneaster, Japanese and Himalayan honeysuckle, as well as selective control of blackberry.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council land management officer Phoebe Tinning said the overarching objective of the environmental programme was to restore, protect and enhance areas with high biodiversity value, restoring the natural environment and habitat.
"Five Mile Gate and Eight Mile Gate wetlands are both priority biodiversity sites within the Rotorua Ecological District. These sites have Priority Biodiversity Level 2 status, meaning they contain ecosystem types that have been reduced to less than 20 per cent of the natural extent."
Wetlands have been reduced to less than 10 per cent of their former extent in the Bay of Plenty region and nationally – now is the time to act to preserve for generations to come.
Tipu Waiariki Charitable Trust chairman Gregg Brown said although the trust was relatively new in the environmental restoration space their main kaupapa was to support the improvement of water quality in Rotorua.
"This is a unique collaboration to protect and restore vulnerable wetlands – we're all working towards the same goal. Our region is unique and we're pleased to support the project along with Whakarewarewa Pest Free who carry out pest management in the area and Timberlands who are supporting the project with permits and access."
Work started at the end of March and is scheduled to run through to 2025.
The regional council will undertake monitoring of the integrity and effectiveness of the works and activities under the Environmental Programme.
Priority Biodiversity Sites were designed and developed in a joint effort between the Department of Conservation and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to support the goal of maintaining and/or restoring a full range of the region's ecosystems to a healthy functioning state.
Five Mile Gate and Eight Mile Gate
Five Mile Gate (Priority Biodiversity Site (PBS) 300) and Eight Mile Gate (often named Ohineuia Stream Wetland, PBS 8038) wetlands are just south of Lake Rotorua on State Highway 5, in the Puarenga sub-catchment of Lake Rotorua.
Five Mile Gate is 2.5ha and Eight Mile Gate is 4.3ha. Both wetlands are located within the Lake Rotorua Catchment and feed into the Puarenga Stream. Together these small areas are an important example of the indigenous vegetation and habitats of the Rotorua Lakes Ecological District.