Nelson Nature Update
16 December 2016
The second year of the Nelson Nature programme is now underway and work has begun on building on what was achieved in the first year.
It is fantastic to see so many people in the community involved in conservation activities that help in achieving the goals of Nelson Nature. Here is a snapshot of just some of the things that have been happening this year.
Community Care for Poorman Valley Stream
Volunteers of all ages at the Poorman Valley Stream morning tea.
A number of community groups and local schools have been working hard to care for Poorman Valley Stream, Stoke, over the past few months. Nelson Nature held morning tea at St Barnabas Church in Stoke to bring together these groups and celebrate their achievements. Members of the Marsden Valley Trapping Group, Stoke Rotary, Nelson Christian Academy School, Nayland Primary School, and Nayland College all met to share their experiences and tell the story of their stream.
To share this work with the wider community and show how the groups’ collective work goes to protect Poorman Valley Stream, we have created a web map which highlights the different projects occurring on the stream.
At the head of the Poorman Valley Stream catchment, the work of the Marsden Valley Trapping Group continues with animal pests and weeds being removed from the upper valley, and in the coming months, the group will be laying wasp bait stations for the benefit of everyone who enjoys walking in this reserve. The Marsden Valley Trapping Group are always keen to see new members, so to find out how you could be involved please contact email@example.com
Members of Stoke Rotary Club working along Poorman Valley Stream
In Isel Park, the Stoke Rotary Club planted more native plants along the riparian margins of Poorman Valley Stream, as they have done in previous years. This section of open stream will benefit in time with the additional shade to help cool this stretch of water.
Nelson Christian Academy planting day
Nelson Christian Academy pupils worked in a whole school effort, with the Nelson City Council and its contractors, to plant the Poorman Valley Stream banks as it runs through the school. The students planted over 500 plants, with a Council contractor putting in an additional 200 plants on the steeper banks of the stream.
The additional shading over the stream will benefit the aquatic life of the fish and macroinvertebrates that live in this waterway, as well as providing habitat for those birds that make their way from the Marsden Valley Reserve toward the city.
Nayland Primary student artwork
Further downstream from the Nelson Christian Academy School, the pupils of Nayland Primary School have been doing great things to look after their piece of stream bank. As well as spending time every week going out and collecting rubbish that has blown into the waterway, they have made some very informative brochures about the history of Poorman Valley Stream, the life that lives in the stream, and the impacts that the urban environment have on water quality.
Nayland College students planting at Poorman Valley Stream
Across the road from the Primary School, Nayland College NEST students have begun monitoring Poorman Valley Stream for water quality, and have planted several larger grade native trees along the stream in the school grounds to enhance shading in this area.
Young volunteers from the Orphanage Stream Guardians group
This great community effort is not confined to Poorman Valley Stream. At nearby Orphanage Stream, the Orphanage Stream Guardians Group held a planting day which saw around 80 additional plants go in to the riparian margin. These will eventually help with both stabilising the bank and providing shade to enhance habitat and help prevent weed growth over the summer months.
Weeders and Planters volunteer workshop
Bradley Myer (Kaitiaki o Ngahere)
Nelson Nature held a workshop at Fairfield House in early October for those volunteers involved in planting and weeding projects. It was a good opportunity to hear from established groups and hear from the experts. The day stressed the importance of supporting those hard working and passionate volunteers that are regularly committing to planting and tending a range of such projects.
Understanding the issues and how we manage them
The Dun Mountain Trail
Council is currently preparing plans to help guide control of weeds to protect our valuable native forest and tussock ecosystems in Nelson’s hill country and the Nelson City Backdrop. Weeds, like wilding conifers and Old Man’s Beard, are major threats to the unique plant communities of Dun Mountain and to native forest in the Maitai and Roding Water Reserves and Grampians. Council will be using the plans to ensure weed control programmes starting in the New Year at these sites are operating efficiently and have the long game in sight.
To help understand weed issues, we have mapped weeds across the Nelson City Backdrop to identify the density and type of weeds present, as well as the vegetation on these sites. A large area of the mineral belt tussock lands around Dun Mountain has been surveyed for Spanish heath, gorse and wilding conifers.
The good news is that there are large areas of the mineral belt where there are only scattered weeds present, meaning that we should be able to control these and protect the site. Sparsely distributed weeds were controlled by the survey team, and sites with dense infestations will be revisited in the autumn for control.
Surveys of some of our urban streams to identify fish passage barriers, riparian planting gaps, and opportunities for enhancing spawning habitat for inanga, will be completed shortly to enable work to be undertaken in the later part of this financial year. The highest prioritised work will be undertaken in the first half of 2017.
Taiwan Cherry Eradication
Taiwan Cherry is a vigorous environmental weed in Nelson
This year's Taiwan Cherry Eradication programme saw a further 620 trees removed. The focus was on flowering trees as opposed to all plants (last year a total of 11,000 trees, saplings and seedlings were removed). The trees are favourites with our gardeners and our birds, which makes it difficult for some people to agree to have them removed. There have been some queries about why we are targeting Taiwan Cherry when other weeds, such as Old Man’s Beard, are so much more prevalent in our landscape.
Back in the 1920’s, Old Man’s Beard was introduced as an ornamental climber, popular with those who knew it by its British name of “Travellers Joy”. For 1s 6d, the gardener could purchase a “very hardy, strong grower”, and by the 1940’s, it was reported as being already quite well spread. By the 1970’s – only 50 years after introduction – Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba) was being considered as a serious weed throughout the country.
If it were possible to go back to the early years of this plant’s spread, and if there had been a control programme in place, it is likely that the savings to the economy, let alone our environment, would be in the millions of dollars when we take into account the costs and the lost opportunity for land use. This vine is responsible for the collapse of mature forests, and the prevention of regenerating forests. While we can try and contain this problem, it would be very optimistic to think we will ever totally eradicate it. With a plant like Taiwan Cherry, we can prevent this from becoming another Old Man’s Beard.
The Great Kererū Count
Kererū - Photonewzealand - Rob Tucker
Results from this year's Great Kererū Count found that in Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman regions less kererū were noted than in previous years. In general, participants were of the opinion that kererū had become less visible in their region, whereas in Wellington, Southland and Canterbury participants felt that kererū numbers were increasing.
Across the country, 5,880 observations were submitted, with 11,990 birds recorded (compared to 19,640 last year). In Nelson, there were 22 observations submitted with 75 kererū seen.
To help show support for the Kererū Count, the children from Enner Glynn School did some beautiful art work, and Year 9 girls from Nelson College for Girls Prep also provided photographs and poems about their environment.
Only Rain Goes Down the Drain
Students from Nelson Central School with their drain painting at Countdown Trafalgar Park
Students of nine Nelson and Stoke schools took part in a drain painting day on Wednesday 8 December, painting environmental messages around the drains in the car parks of the three Countdown supermarkets in Stoke and Nelson.
The schools that took part were Stoke School, Birchwood School and Nayland Primary School (Countdown Stoke); Nelson College for Girls Preparatory School, Auckland Point School and Nelson Intermediate School (Countdown Nelson) and Victory School, Nelson Central School and Enner Glynn School (Countdown Trafalgar park).
The paintings carry an environmental message that river and sea life are affected by anything other than rainwater going down the drain.
Each school was supplied with paints by sponsors Resene, and the painting areas around the drains cordoned off and supervised by sponsors Nelmac. The students designed their drain painting at school and used drawings and stencils to mark out the design before painting. Countdown staff were very supportive and supplied the students and their helpers with morning tea.
Nelson Nature and Project Maitai also worked with NMIT digital animation students to produce a series of animations with a conservation subject. We will be releasing the animations over the next few months, the first of which, by Elaine Ang, can be found here
More native plants in the landscape
Planting on Council land has been completed for this year - planting sites were at the Tantragee Reserve alongside the Dun Mountain Trail, and at the Orphanage Stream delta, an important inanga spawning site.
In addition to this work, there were several hundred trees supplied to landowners in rural areas with riparian margins, or with land near the Nelson Halo, who are undertaking larger scale restoration projects.
Community groups working in Nelson’s reserves, including the Paremata Flats Restoration Project and Marsden Valley Trapping Group, have continued with their ongoig planting programmes.
Planting at Haulashore Island
Haulashore Island is managed by Nelson City Council as a highly valued recreational and historic site. It is also managed for its ecological values and is classified as a Significant Natural Area due to the coastal indigenous vegetation that is present and the habitat that it provides for native wildlife.
In July, a number of staff from Port Nelson volunteered their time and came together with Nelmac and Council to plant 70 plants on the Island. The two species planted are rare in the Nelson area, with one species, Discaria toumatou or prostrate matagouri, growing only at Pepin Island and even there – only very few plants remain. Seed which had previously been collected from these plants was grown to a suitable grade for planting. Haulashore Island was chosen as a replanting site as it is one of the very few sites suitable for this species. The other species planted, Melicytus crassifolius or Porcupine shrub (of the whitewood or mahoe family) is nationally ‘at risk – in decline’ and also has very site specific conditions.
Council is currently looking at how it may be able to work further with Port Nelson, Nelmac and community groups such as the Iron Duke Sea Scouts and the Boathouse Trust to help look after the Island’s natural values.
Shining Cuckoo - J.L. Kendrick
Contractors have recently completed the field work for the second round of 5 minute bird count monitoring for the Nelson area and we eagerly await the results in mid January. The bird counts are carried out in November and there are 6 lines (transects) - each approximately 1 kilometre long with stations at every 200m. There are a total of 62 ‘stations’ where bird calls and sightings are recorded for 5 minutes before moving along to the next station. The transect lines are situated in the city backdrop and halo areas and we hope that in time there will be a clear improvement in the number of bird species already here – due to the efforts of the community by trapping and planting suitable food trees, and that in time some new species will spill over from the Brook/Waimarama Sanctuary. Last year kakariki (our native yellow crowned parakeet) were seen and heard between the Sanctuary and the Maitai Dam.
Gathering community thoughts on Nelson's nature.
Nelson City Council recently ran an online survey to give a baseline understanding of people's thoughts about Nelson's natural environment, and their appetite for involvement in conservation efforts. The survey was enthusiastically received with over 500 responses over a one week period giving Council, and Nelson Nature, some valuable information on which to base future decisions. Survey outcomes will be released in the New Year.