Focus on braided rivers

Braided rivers are iconic Canterbury features. They are also globally rare – a particular combination of climate and geology is needed to form the dynamic braided channels across a wide gravel riverbed.

The rivers and associated springs, wetlands and small streams form an important ecological link from the mountains to the sea.

You have told us you want Canterbury’s precious braided rivers protected. That’s why we’re giving them top priority.

We’re doing this in a number of ways. We’re working with communities to identify what they value in braided rivers and how we can manage them for multiple uses including recreation and farming, and as important habitats for fish and threatened bird species. We’re also working with other agencies that manage public land to align and improve our land management in braided river environments.

Water zone committees are also involved in braided river projects. For example, the Hurunui – Waiau Zone Committee is undertaking a flagship native biodiversity programme focusing on predator control and creating habitats for braided river birds.

Public transport update - Metro Timaru

We are excited to be working with global mobility expert Via to research the feasibility of a different way of delivering public transport research the feasibility of a different way of delivering public transport in Timaru.

Use of Timaru’s current system has been declining for several years now, and an on-demand, ride-sharing service where people are picked up from a nearby location could be a viable alternative to the current service.

During the research period, we will work with Timaru District Council, Via and people throughout the community, to design a suitable on-demand public transport service based on community needs and assess the feasibility of providing the service.

If an on-demand service is introduced in Timaru, it will be the first time that an urban area in New Zealand entirely uses this sort of service for public transport. For more info: metroinfo.co.nz/timaru.

Family project creates environmental haven

It’s been two years since Jodie and Matt Hoggard began their riparian planting project around Kaikōura’s Swan Creek.

What once appeared to be a dried-up stream through their property, bare on both sides, is now flourishing with native vegetation.

“It’s been Matt’s vision ever since we bought the block. He’s a good visionary. I couldn’t really see it to be honest,” Jodie said.

When they first bought the 4.2ha property almost five years ago it was basically a blank canvas and the ultimate family project.

“We wanted to give our kids space to grow up, grow some of our own food and have a good family project to get our teeth into. It was a really attractive block with a bit of challenge,” Jodie said.

The couple changed the fenceline, leaving space on either side of the stream and keeping stock out completely. They worked closely with Environment Canterbury biodiversity staff and a local nursery to plan how to best protect the stream using native plants.

The Kaikōura Water Zone Committee’s Immediate Steps Fund helped purchase 300 native plants to get them started on the riparian planting around the stream.

“Thankfully the Immediate Steps funding was there…having that assistance meant we could get in and get on with it quicker than if we had just ticked along doing it on our own,” Jodie said.

The result - a beautiful stream area where their children can explore and fish. Read more about the success story.

Does your local biodiversity project need support?

In Canterbury there are 10 community-led water zone committees who work collaboratively to identify freshwater priorities and challenges and make recommendations to councils to address these.

Each water zone committee has $100,000 a year to allocate to biodiversity projects in their zone to restore local ecosystems and improve water quality. Projects can include anything from fencing off wetlands, to planting native trees or clearing pest vegetation to protect native bat populations. Visit ecan.govt.nz/biodiversity for more information.

Take your own picnic and leave the stunning view

If you’re planning a trip to the lakes this summer, pack your own picnic to reduce food and drink rubbish at your favourite lakeside spot.

It may take a little more planning but going retro – using plates, a flask and reusable containers – cuts down on the rubbish that’s left when you pack up your picnic. The difference is surprising; a couple of apple cores versus a bag of rubbish.

Ideas for a low-waste picnic

  • Use a picnic set rather than disposable plates and cutlery
  • Fruit is a great low-waste option
  • Use beeswax wraps or reusable containers for storing food
  • Remember to pack a reusable drink bottle rather than buying bottled drinks
  • Pack a face cloth for wiping hands and faces rather than paper serviettes or baby wipes
  • Take a flask and re-usable coffee cups for hot drinks
  • Make sure you either take home any waste or dispose of it in provided waste bins
  • Remember to use the public toilet facilities provided!

The low-waste picnic theme is part of the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee‘s summer-time Love Your Lakes campaign, which reminds lake users to respect the environment by disposing of rubbish responsibly, using provided toilet facilities and not discharging dirty water or sewage into waterways.

Environment Canterbury monitors regularly water quality at popular swimming spots around Canterbury. The results are available through Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA), New Zealand’s most comprehensive source of water data at lawa.org.nz/swim.

Left: Which lunch? Upper Waitaki Zone Committee Facilitator Barb Gilchrist compares a low-waste picnic lunch to a packaged/bought lunch. Right: Barb Gilchrist shows the difference in leftover picnic waste between the two lunches.

Good stuff:

Where’s good to swim this summer?

If you’re heading away with the family this summer, or even if you’re staying at home, remember to visit www.LAWA.org.nz/swim for the most up-to-date information and advice on swimming conditions.

The LAWA website lists more than 100 swimming sites in Canterbury and for each has the weekly bacterial result, any cyanobacterial outbreaks, as well as the long-term water quality status.

LAWA is all about keeping you, your family and your pets safe, so we recommend:

Cyanobacteria outbreaks

Blue-green algae outbreaks are common at freshwater recreational sites over summer and can make humans and animals extremely sick. Dogs are particularly at risk if they swallow the algal mats.

For more information watch the ‘Cyanobacteria explained’ video or go to ecan.govt.nz/swimming.

Boat Safety

We want everyone to stay safe on Canterbury’s many waterways. Make sure you’re wearing a properly fitted lifejacket, and your boat has an ID. Read more: ecan.govt.nz/navsafety.

Wilding pines – preventing the spread

The battle to prevent the spread of wilding pines in our region continues, with Environment Canterbury playing an instrumental role in controlling these invasive trees. Wilding pines, also known as wilding conifers, self-seed from established pine forests and represent one of the biggest pest management challenges we face in Canterbury, infesting around 25% of the region.

As part of a programme with other key agencies, more than two million hectares - that’s 43% of the region - has now been searched and treated. Environment Canterbury will continue to focus on working with landowners in priority areas and providing operational plans to the government for funding.

Did you know? Wilding pines decrease water levels in dry catchments; displace threatened habitats and species; reduce land productivity; obscure scenic views in iconic landscapes. Visit the National programme website: www.wildingconifers.org.nz

Meet the locals

What’s going on at The Willows?

Our rangers are busy working on developing The Willows area. Once complete, The Willows will have picnic areas overlooking the Waimakariri River, river and fishing access points, native plantings and educational spaces, walking tracks and a forest mountain bike trail – to name a few!

Alongside the work at The Willows, we are making Weedons Forest a destination for trail biking, including up to 30km of managed trails with varying levels of difficulty, a designated area for beginner riders, and improved car parking facilities.

The area is still open to the public at this stage, but please respect signage and worksites. The work is due for completion early 2019. Find out more about the progress at the Willows.

Current site of the arrivals hub at 'The Willows' and an Artist’s impression of the arrival hub.
Current site of the river frontage at 'The Willows' and an artist impression of the revamped river frontage.

Be a stormwater superhero

Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee chair Arapata Reuben, left, with Environment Canterbury councillors Tom Lambie and Iaean Cranwell at a recent Stormwater Superhero meeting.

Members of the Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee are on a mission to save our waterways and want you to join them as Stormwater Superheroes.

Stormwater is water that runs off our roofs, driveways, roads and gardens then into our gutters. It flows untreated into our waterways and out to sea picking up a whole heap of nasty bits and pieces that end up in our rivers and streams.

Our Stormwater Superheroes have been out in the community talking about solutions such as copper-free brake pads, washing your car on the lawn and picking up after your dog. If you see them around pop in and say hi! For handy tips on how you can help our superheroes, visit www.ecan.govt.nz/stormwater.

Youth awards

In October five students were invited to Environment Canterbury to present their winning Science Fair projects to Councillors and staff.

Every year Environment Canterbury invites first-place winners of our resource management awards from the NIWA Canterbury/Westland Science and Technology Fair and the Timaru Sanford’s Science and Technology Fair to present their projects. From these presentations one is awarded the Wrybill Trophy. Professor Jon Hickford from Lincoln University was invited to judge the students’ presentations and determine the Wrybill Trophy winner.

Julia Christensen from Cobham Intermediate was awarded the Wrybill Trophy for her biodegradable plant guard, the Eco Protector. Julia designed and produced the plant guard, having trialled several prototypes. She’s now in discussion with potential retailers with the view to taking her design to market.

Environment Canterbury Councillors congratulated the students on the time and effort they invested in their projects. Find out more at ecan.govt.nz/youthawards.

Annual Plan

In the last issue of Living Here you’ll have seen a short piece on Environment Canterbury’s Long-Term Plan 2018-28, which was adopted in June. Under the Local Government Act 2002, we produce a Long-Term Plan (LTP) every three years, looking out at the work that will be undertaken over the coming 10 years.

The reason it is refreshed every three years is to ensure it is on track, and to confirm the financial information. For the two years in between, we produce an Annual Plan with detailed financials just for the coming year. If something significant has come up since the LTP was agreed, we will consult with the community again for the Annual Plan.

If nothing material has changed since the LTP was agreed, the Annual Plan isn’t consulted on but, we will still let you know when it is being produced so you check back in on what is proposed. The 2019/20 Annual Plan (year two of the Long-Term Plan 2018-28) will be publicly available from mid-February 2019. Look out for information in your letter box next year.

Did you know?

In 2017/18 we spent $14million on flood protection. $11million of this was for maintaining infrastructure worth $508million that protects assets worth about $130billion. To find out more facts and stats about what is going on in Canterbury visit www.ecan.govt.nz/reportingback.

Find out ‘what do bus passengers think of the service’, ‘how many consent holders comply with consent conditions to mitigate environmental impacts’ and ‘who cleans up if there is a marine oil spill’ and many other issues you might be interested in.

Join the conversation with Environment Canterbury. Follow activity, post comments or contact our Customer Services team 0800 EC INFO or 0800 324 636

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