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Hanging Rock planting creates bat habitat

Published: Thu 18 Sep 2014 10:27 AM
Hanging Rock planting creates bat habitat
A recent grant is helping South Canterbury farmer Alan Cone fast-track restoring a wetland where endangered long-tailed native bats have been found.
The Orari-Opihi-Pareora (OOP) Water Management Zone Committee will fund Mr Cone up to $17,700 for fencing and planting at his Hanging Rock property, near Pleasant Point. The contribution is from the Immediate Steps fund, which helps restore freshwater habitats and ecosystems.
OOP Zone Committee Chairman Dermott O’Sullivan says just over $200,000 of Immediate Steps funding is still available in the zone.
In the Ashburton zone, to the north, a similar sum remains to be applied and $165,000 in Lower Waitaki, to the south.
Mr Cone and his partner Judy Bagrie have fenced then planted a 2-hectare wetland with a stream running through it. Immediate Steps helped pay for 550 metres of fencing and 6000 locally sourced native plants. The restored wetland will filter the stream.
The grant meant he could pay a contractor to do the planting in April this year then follow up with weed control.
“I couldn’t have afforded the time to do the job myself,” Mr Cone said. “The funding probably cut costs in half and meant I was able to plant a bigger area than planned.”
Department of Conservation ranger Dave Anderson said this joint project with Environment Canterbury came about after willows where bats were living were cut and poisoned, to protect a road culvert. A few willows were left so bats had somewhere to roost and forage, until the native plants were big enough to provide habitat.
This could take up to 30 years for cabbage and kanuka trees and up to 50 years for kahikatea, Mr Anderson says.
Long-tailed bats are found in South Canterbury, from the foothills to the coast and from Peel Forest to the Otaio. Numbers are falling and they could be extinct within 25 years.
“If willows need to be removed they should be poisoned then left standing rather than felled, because with the loss of native trees they are an important bat habitat,” Mr Anderson said.
Environment Canterbury biodiversity team leader Jo Abbott is pleased to see Immediate Steps funding helping look after significant wetlands in each of the 10 water management zones.
“More than 90 per cent of wetlands have been lost since European settlement, so supporting efforts to protect what remains is extremely satisfying for everyone involved,” she says.
Immediate Steps is one of the Environment Canterbury funds targeting habitat protection “ki uta ki tai”, from the mountains to the sea. The Canterbury Biodiversity Fund prioritises projects where biodiversity values are already high such as native bush and braided rivers, and the Honda TreeFund helps pay for native plants.
Since July 2010, these programmes have contributed close to $5 million towards fencing, planting and weed and pest control to restore natural habitats In Canterbury.
For advice on planting natives in South Canterbury and biodiversity funding, go to www.ecan.govt.nz/biodiversity or call the Environment Canterbury biodiversity team via 0800 324 636. For advice on bat habitats ring, call Dave Anderson on 03 693 1010.
Immediate Steps:
Is a $10 million Canterbury Water Management Strategy programme entering its fifth and final year, with a second phase possible
Is 70 per cent subscribed across Canterbury, with more than $3.46 million committed to 200 projects
Meets up to two-thirds of the cost of eligible projects
Is two-thirds funded by ratepayers and one-third by recipients, mostly landowners, other agencies and community conservation groups
Provides $500,000 in each of 10 Environment Canterbury water management zones plus $1.2 million towards regionally important water management including flagship projects around braided rivers, Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere and the Wainono Lagoon, near Timaru
Supports Canterbury Water Management Strategy targets including promoting ecosystem health and biodiversity, recreational opportunities and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of water.
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