Reforestation, improving water quality and community engagement are of top priority as a new 20-year development to turn Tutarnui Water Reservoirs back to native bush gets under way.
The Rangitikei District Council have jumped on the band wagon to be part of a nationwide project to plant 320,000 native trees and plants as memorial forests for returned service men in the New Zealand Defence Force.
Park and reserves team leader, Athol Sanson says they were not expecting to receive their lot of plants so soon but it has created an awesome opportunity.
"This is giving us an opportunity to not only improve water quality but to also create a recreational site," he says.
As the site was a past pine plantation the council had requirements under the Emissions Trading Scheme to ensure the felled area had cover for 10 years which the council decided to commit to through reforestation.
May 2017 saw the felling of the pines from the area and the first lot of planting began in February 2018.
From the felling, all profit made is being used to restore and managed all felled areas including tracks made, labour and plant protectors.
Sanson says it will be enough to ensure at least five years work on site.
Late 2018 the council received funding from Matariki-tu-rakau for the purchase of 16,900 trees valued at $73,762, with the support from the Marton RSA and the Tutarnui Stream Restoration Group.
Other non-tree species such as flax, carex and toe toe will also be purchased which will see planting of around 25,000 plants on site over the next two years.
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Ten hectares of native trees and plants planted this season that will contribute to a development goal of improving water quality through soft engineering solutions.
"Through soft-engineering such as planting in wetlands it will help filter out the water a bit.
"Planting all of these trees around the banks of the dam will allow for a lot more air movement," he says.
Native planting closer to the roadside and nearby hills will help to filter water coming from farm runoffs.
Horizons Regional Council and landowners have been asked to fence off streams around farms to help with this process.
"Farmers have been really proactive and supportive of the idea," he says.
When attending to existing weeds on the water's edge they are also taking extra care.
Ben Woolston, environment parks assistant who manages the park daily says they have minimalised chemicals by spot spraying.
"A native tree or plant is then planted in where we have sprayed and is protected by a biodegradable fibre that goes around the bottom of the tree," he says.
Woolston says in the beginning the size of the site was a bit daunting but they are getting there.
"I really enjoy it, I've got a pretty good office to come to every day," he says.
The council have agreed to allow public access in future, with only planting groups such as the Tutarnui Stream Restoration who plant every Wednesday morning, having current access.
So far around 2km of gravel tracks have been created with the hopes of creating tracks right around the dams for recreational use.
"It would be very difficult to ask for community engagement to develop the site if we didn't have an end result for public recreation," says Sanson.
Sanson is hoping for a working bee in June where they will plant around 4000 native trees and plants in the wetlands area.