The restoration of Hamilton's Mangaiti Gully is nearing completion as Hamilton City Council announced the public access tracks will open in June.
Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan visited the gully last week where she announced 14 Jobs for Nature projects in the Waikato and Maniapoto districts, overseen by the Department of Conservation (DoC), had received additional funding.
The work done at Mangaiti Gully aims to restore the native flora to pre-European status and to preserve the whenua (land), birds, wildlife and the ngahere (forest) for future generations.
The project received funding from the Government's Jobs for Nature Programme and is a collaborative effort from DoC, the city council, the Mangaiti Gully Restoration Trust, Go Eco Charitable Trust and Ngāti Wairere.
Jobs for Nature is a Government-funded programme that is part of the Covid-19 recovery package and brings people from different backgrounds into nature-based employment.
Deputy chairwoman of the council's environment committee Sarah Thomson said the Mangaiti Gully was a great example of what is possible with partnership and funding.
"The Mangaiti Gully Restoration Trust has been doing a great job of community-led restoration for several years. It's fantastic to see the Jobs for Nature programme bring more hands on deck."
A team of four began work clearing weeds and planting native species in Zone 2 of the gully that is accessible to the public from Hukanui Rd in February.
Co-ordinator of Mangaiti Gully Restoration Trust Rex Bushell said the restoration efforts at Mangaiti Gully were important for local fauna. The native long-tailed bat, crowned Bird of the Year 2021, has been sighted in the gully in recent years.
"Habitat loss is a major contributor to fauna population stress which can lead to localised extinction. It's also a great reminder to Hamiltonians their city is home to important taonga species which they can help protect, through simple conservation efforts like weed control and backyard trapping."
The gully will also become part of the area's walkway and cycleway systems that help link suburbs. When the restoration is completed in June, access tracks and boardwalks will open to the public.
Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate visited the gully with Allan and said she was delighted to see the restoration work done to date.
"This project is an example of great partnership... It means the faster restoration of one of Hamilton's special natural places and it has also provided for skills training and job opportunities for new biodiversity, green-space champions. I love it."
During the visit, Allan announced that 14 Jobs for Nature projects in the Waikato, Coromandel and Maniapoto districts were extended for another year.
Tourism Holdings Ltd will be funded $650,000 for a 12-month extension of its existing Jobs for Nature project in the Waitomo District.
Allan said Tourism Holdings was a key employer through its Discover Waitomo operations.
"The company's staff have been redeployed into ... work programmes supporting species protection and maintaining Department of Conservation areas in Maniapoto since last year. The investment ... extends the project by a further 12 months, ensuring the company can retain 39 staff, including three new team members."
The Maungatautari to Pirongia Ecological Corridor Project will receive $250,000 in funding over three years for planting and protecting ecological "stepping stones" at the Matakitaki Pā.
Allan said the corridor project aimed to rejoin two mountains that both have significant biodiversity value and are rich with native flora and fauna.
"It will focus on the Mangapiko Stream that runs east-west between Pirongia and Maungatautari. Improving areas along the stream will create a natural 'stepping stone' for native birds and other fauna travelling between the two mountains."