Opihi River

The Opihi River is one of Canterbury’s iconic braided rivers, stretching for 75 kilometres to meet the ocean just north of Timaru. Activity around the river’s water is managed through the Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora (OTOP) zone committee.

The zone covers the wholearea administered by Timaru District Council, some land to the south of Pareora which sits in Waimate District Council’s district, and the area around Fairlie and Burkes Pass in the west which is administered by the Mackenzie District Council.

The Opihi River is one of four major rivers covered by the OTOP zone: the others are the Pareora, Orari and the Rangitata.

For more information about what’s happening in the OTOP water zone, see www.ecan.govt.nz/myzone.

Protecting what’s ours

Put simply, biodiversity is the variety and diversity of all life on Earth. When we talk about biodiversity in New Zealand we’re usually referring to indigenous or native plants and animals – kōwhai, kea, tūī, tussock, inanga/whitebait, kōwaro/ mudfish, weta, tī kōuka/cabbage tree – and the waterways or landscapes where they are found.

Here in Canterbury, our native biodiversity helps define the unique character of our region, and forms a fundamental part of the cultural identity and heritage of Ngāi Tahu.

It’s part of our everyday lives and landscapes, and in some cases, it is internationally recognised and found nowhere else on Earth.

From the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o Te Moana, over the foothills, across the plains, along braided rivers to coastal lagoons and estuaries, wetlands, dune systems, rocky peninsulas, and out to sea, we are a big part of New Zealand’s unique network of biodiversity.

It’s in all our interests to protect and restore what’s uniquely ours. Some of our freshwater, marine and terrestrial biodiversity is thriving, but some has seen a significant decline since peoplefirst arrived in Canterbury.

The main threats are introduced plant and animal pests, and changes in the way land is used over time.

As a regional council, it’s not part of our role to protect the species themselves. Our role is to protect the habitats and ecosystems they live in so they can thrive – especially in braided rivers and wetlands. This is where we are focusing our resources and it’s a big job that will require a lot of effort from a lot of people.

Others who have a part to play include landowners, environmental groups, city and district councils, zone committees, farming and conservation groups, research organisations, Ngāi Tahu and government agencies.

Our on-the-ground teams are working hard to protect, maintain and restore biodiversity – in that order. Protecting what is still there now is the crucial first step to take towards halting any further decline in our threatened biodiversity, while restoring what has been lost can come later.

Integral to all this is our biosecurity work to manage existing and emerging plant and animal pests.

Working together to protect long-tailed bats

The Long-Tailed Bat (pekapeka) is a shy South Canterbury native, classified as ‘endangered/nationally critical’ by DOC. An estimated population of just 2,300 can be found within a triangle from Geraldine to Cave and down to Temuka.

A project between Environment Canterbury, DOC and forestry company Port Blakely is removing possums, rats, weasels and stoats from the area on Port Blakely’s land to help protect the bats.

These predators kill adult bats and pups, so keeping their numbers down is key to maintaining the bat population.

What’s hot

The Mackenzie Basin

The stunning landscape of the Mackenzie is something distinctly recognisable to anyone who has travelled that way whether from New Zealand or around the world. In recent months it has been getting attention from the community around land use development and irrigation, and the impact of tourists.

The Mackenzie District Council, Waitaki District Council, Department of Conservation, Land Information New Zealand and Environment Canterbury have joined forces to work with the community on the environmental, cultural, social and economic future of the district. Find out more about land and water management in the Mackenzie Basin.

Get out and about

Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail

Check out www.alps2ocean.com to see the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail, from Aoraki/Mt Cook to Oamaru through some of the best scenery in the world. Or view DOC’s website www.doc.govt.nz/walks to see what else is on offer in the district.

New rule book for our biosecurity

The region has a new approach to pest management. The Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan, to give it its full title, is the rule book for our biosecurity. Managing plant and animal pests is an important part of the sustainable management of natural resources.

Traditionally the focus has been mainly on managing legacy pests that affect production land, such as broom, gorse, rabbits, wallaby and nassella tussock. While this work needs to continue to prevent spread, the new plan also looks at stopping new pests from getting into

Canterbury and becoming established. As a result we can become more resilient, with pests managed for both production land and biodiversity protection purposes.

We also make sure our work is aligned with neighbouring regions’ to help prevent new pests arriving here. Environment Canterbury will have a leadership role in implementing the plan, working with land owners to deal to the problem.

Other topics, like water bottling, quarries and fishscreens, often get the headlines. When we identify a hot topic, we’ll get it on our website at www.ecan.govt.nz/hottopics.

Be a responsible skipper

If your boat or jet ski is off the water for the winter months, now’s the perfect time to get your ID number sorted.

Nearly all boats and jet skis on Canterbury waterways need a unique ID displayed on each side of the hull. It must be at least nine centimetres high and visible from 50 metres away.The easiest way to do this is to get stickers printed from a sign shop.

If your boat is towed on a trailer, your ID will be your trailer registration number.

If your boat is not towed on a trailer, your ID might be your VHF radio call sign, an existing Maritime New Zealand number or a number approved for your sporting body. A name you’ve created for your boat is not accepted.

The only exceptions are non-powered vessels measuring less than six metres in length – such as kayaks, stand-up paddle boards or row boats. In this case, you only need to write your name and contact number somewhere on board with a permanent marker.

Our Harbourmaster’s Office is responsible for keeping people safe on Canterbury’s many waterways. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the water safely, and identification is one tool we are using to curb risky behaviour. If all boats have clear IDs, it’s a lot easier to track down a skipper and remind them of the rules when needed.

Did you know? Canterbury and the West Coast are home to 14% of New Zealand’s recreational boaties. Read more: www.ecan.govt.nz/navsafety.

Climate change

What’s in store for Canterbury

The conversation around climate change is no longer about if it is happening, but rather what can we now do to mitigate the impacts, and adapt to the change.

At Environment Canterbury our role is to support the community to better understand and proactively respond to climate change risks and opportunities.

While we don’t have a regulatory role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions – that lies with central Government and initiatives such as the Zero Carbon Bill – many of our regional policies and plans will inherently lead to a reduction in emissions: for example, farming within limits, reducing transport congestion, managing industrial emissions to air, and clean burning.

We have a whole lot of information from our own and other sources to read on www.ecan.govt.nz/climatechange.

Do you need help with heating?

Stay warm over winter and comply with the clean air rules thanks to Healthier Homes Canterbury.

This new scheme lets ratepayers add up to $6000 to rates bills to cover the cost of home heating appliances, ventilation and/or insulation, and pay it back over nine years (with added interest to cover administrative costs).

Applications open September 3 but you can register interest now and we’ll be in touch. www.ecan.govt.nz/healthierhomes.

Meet the locals

Illustrating Canterbury’s native river

Jessie Rawcliffe is a graphic designer and illustrator, working out of The Corner Store artist studios in Christchurch, where she is (among many other projects) working on illustrations of Canterbury’s native river and ocean species for the Ashley Estuary interpretive signage project.

You can see Jessie’s work at www.jessie-rawcliffe.com or better still, walk the banks of the Ashley River/Rakahuri this spring.

Summer students at Environment Canterbury

Rubie McLintock was a summer student at Environment Canterbury last summer, spending a few weeks as part of the Contaminated Sites team identifying potential hazardous land sites within Canterbury. Rubie was studying towards a Master’s of Science in Environmental Science at the University of Canterbury at the time and is now employed at Environment Canterbury as a Consents Planner.

Environment Canterbury takes on around 15 students each year, providing them with valuable work experience and the council with additional skills.

New Long-Term Plan

The Long-Term Plan 2018-28 (LTP) came into effect on 1 July 2018. The plan looks out 10 years, with detailed budgets and activity outlined for the first three. An LTP is produced every three years. The first year of the LTP is considered to be the annual plan for that year.

For years two and three, an annual plan is produced enabling any proposed amendments to activity to be discussed with the community prior to being commenced for that year. An annual report is produced every year.

In this LTP you will see a new Climate Change Integration programme, new work in the biodiversity and biosecurity portfolio, public transport innovation funding and other changes in focus.

Expenditure 2018/19

Portfolio expenditure for year 1 of the LTP (2018/19)

The full plan is available on our website www.ecan.govt.nz/longtermplan.

Find out how activity is funded through my rates

Use the rates tool to see where funding comes from and how your rates fund Environment Canterbury’s activity.

Connect with us

Environment Canterbury’s website is a hub of information about the Canterbury environment. New features include the water hub, which leads to information about freshwater management in the region.

The news section has stories from across all our portfolios. Hot topics are there to cover current issues to save you searching the site for the information.

Follow us on Instagram, and the Environment Canterbury or Canterbury water Facebook pages.

Tell us what you’d like to hear more about and share your pictures/views about the region.

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