Over half of the 4500 native plants for a biodiversity project at Burgess Stream near Eyreton are in the ground, with planting expected to be completed by November.
The initiative is a joint project between Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL), Environment Canterbury and WIL shareholder and landowners Andrew and Peter Gilchrist.
It is the first in a series of linked biodiversity projects which aim to improve environmental values through WIL's catchment area.
Burgess Stream was the perfect place to start, as the area surrounding an adjacent spring head would be protected, biodiversity project lead Dan Cameron said.
A significant riparian margin would also be enhanced with indigenous species, Cameron said.
"It's been fenced off for years and has a nice thick riparian margin. We also found upland bullies and native fish in the stream which makes it the ideal place to start as we can protect those natural values."
The project aimed to improve water quality through planting, which would increase shading of the riparian margin and contribute organic matter - which played a fundamental role in creating healthy aquatic ecosystems, Cameron said.
It will also help to filter sediment from the water and provide a quality habitat for aquatic fauna.
The plant species have been selected to thrive under an irrigation pivot, while also not growing high enough to interfere with its operation, Cameron said.
"We have to be practical with the plants we select as they need to work in with the farming operation. We've also included species with cultural significance in terms of mahinga kai values."
Collaboration was a key theme and Cameron had spent over 18 months planning and designing the project to ensure the work carried out protected and enhanced the natural values of the site.
"We are planning for the future and trying to implement the vision that landowners, WIL and ECan have for working together cohesively to improve waterways and the environment.
"It's not just about putting plants in the ground for the sake of it, or to tick a box, but about making it work within the context of a functional farm and then stepping back to take a holistic view of the surrounding farms, the entire scheme and the wider community where WIL's scheme connects with other landowners."
Landowner Andrew Gilchrist said that, although he was a bit apprehensive initially about the planting project, he was now totally on board and appreciated all the support from WIL, ECan and Cameron.
"It's hard to know at the start but once we got going, I could see the benefits of this because we are all working together. Being able to access funding from ECan to help with purchasing the plants is a real bonus."
Gilchrist and his staff spent August planting out around 2500 natives along the stream, following a planting plan developed by Cameron and ECan staff.
He said it was a positive team-building exercise.
"August is one of our quieter months for our contracting business, so it was the perfect time to get everyone together for a bit of planting and it was something positive for us to do together.
"We're looking forward to getting the second lot of plants in the ground and will be watching on with interest as they grow."