Biodiversity, erosion control and carbon sequestration in Hawke's Bay are receiving a boost with 3 native tree planting projects launched in the region.
Alex Wilson, director forest development, Grants and Partnerships at Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service, says planting blocks of trees can improve land and water quality, help reduce carbon, and bring economic benefits for local communities.
"Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service has partnered with Te Mata Park Trust Board to plant 12 hectares of new plants and trees on land belonging to the increasingly popular Te Mata Park.
"Mana Whenua are engaged in relation to sites of archaeological significance and a Rōngoa garden has been established and will continue to be developed in conjunction with local iwi," says Mrs Wilson.
Around 59,000 native eco-sourced seedlings will be planted over a 3-year period, resulting in an extension of the park's existing bird corridor linking Cape Kidnappers and Havelock North.
The project will also provide seasonal employment to the local community and include the help of many keen volunteers over its duration.
Mike Devonshire, Trust Chairman, says the Te Mata Park Trust Board is delighted to receive more than $600,000 in funding from Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service's One Billion Trees (1BT) Programme.
"This support will form the backbone of our project, ensuring marked improvements in native biodiversity and birdlife habitats, as well as providing employment for many local contractors.
"As Te Mata Park is protected under a QEII covenant, the restoration of this land will be enjoyed by thousands of park users, in perpetuity. We are very grateful for the support we have received for this ambitious project."
Another Hawke's Bay project receiving funding from the 1BT Programme is Ocean Beach Sanctuary located on the Cape Kidnappers Peninsula. The sanctuary is receiving $160,000 to help increase its seedling production by expanding its nursery and employing a nursery coordinator to ramp up production.
"The nursery, which has produced thousands of plants over the years, has found the demand for seedlings was outstripping its existing production," says Ms Wilson. "By expanding the nursery, an additional 110,000 seedlings are expected to be produced over a 3-year period."
Like the existing nursery, all plants grown by the expanded nursery will be planted in the sanctuary by volunteers.
Rachel Ward, Cape Sanctuary's general manager, says the ongoing revegetation of retired farmland on the Ocean Beach side of the sanctuary increases biodiversity, creates important habitat for endangered fauna, and is changing the microclimate in the area.
"Our growing populations of endangered species (such as little spotted kiwi and Hawke's Bay speckled skink) constantly require new areas of habitat," says Ms Ward.
"The funding from the 1BT Programme and the creation of the nursery, the hard mahi of hundreds of volunteers, and support from local iwi has allowed us to significantly speed up this vital revegetation process."
Funding has also been committed to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council. It's receiving almost $1 million to boost its existing native species planting programmes, including the programmes of partnering organisations, NZ Landcare Trust and Hastings District Council.
Hetty McLennan, Hawke's Bay Regional Council Catchments Advisor Biodiversity, says the funding is a huge win for the region.
"We're going to be able to get a lot more native plants in the ground across 166 hectares of land. This is massive for Hawke's Bay, and boosts the work we're doing in this space to help water quality, enhance biodiversity, and stabilise our hills while sucking up some carbon," she says. "We will be working in partnership with local authorities, Landcare Trust and QEII alongside community groups in delivering this programme."
Mrs Wilson says the projects show the role forestry has in generating regional environmental and economic growth and development.
"Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service is proud to be supporting our local partners and helping to launch these important projects."