Albert Stream gets royal treatment

Almost $40,000 of Immediate Steps (IMS) biodiversity funding has helped some hard-working locals protect water quality and biodiversity values along Albert Stream, in St Martins.

The funding, recommended by the Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee, helped the Port Hills Park Trust plant more than 3,000 natives as part of this restoration and enhancement project.

“The project aligns with the Committee’s priority to reduce sediment runoff in the Port Hills and enhance instream biodiversity values,” Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee Chair Kevin Brown said.

Planting benefits waterways below

Albert Stream is a tributary of the Ōpāwaho/Heathcote River that originates on the western slope of the Port Hills.

“It’s important that we have ongoing protection and enhancement work throughout these upper catchment areas, as they all affect the rivers below,” Brown said.

“By planting waterways in the higher catchment areas, the sediment is filtered early, which means it doesn’t end up in the Ōpāwaho/Heathcote River and smother the plant and life that lives in those lower waterways.

“We’ve got a long way to go to address some of these challenges, but community-driven projects like this are a great step forward,” he added.

Noticeable biodiversity improvements

Woody weeds to be controlled

Woody weeds to be controlled

Planting the natives was made even more difficult by earthquake damage causing uplift, new springs, and fissures.

The area was also overwhelmed by pest plants including gorse, broom, boneseed, and wilding pines.

Following the planting, and ongoing community trapping efforts targeting possums and rabbits, the Trust has noticed some significant improvements in and around Albert Stream, including:

  • a reduction in sediment flowing into the stream
  • documented sightings of New Zealand native kākā and tūī (December 2018)
  • tuna/eel in the stream (2019)
  • New Zealand falcon/kārearea sighting (August 2020)
  • improved native biodiversity, including plant growth of over three-to-four metre high, providing nesting habitat for native birds.

Community collaboration

With volunteers from local groups such as St Martins Scouts, Cashmere High School, the Student Volunteer Army and St Andrew's College, the biodiversity benefits are seen and shared by all.

Other organisations have supported the project, including:

The Trust holds its annual planting day on the last Sunday in August each year. This event offers a chance for locals to connect with nature and understand the positive benefits that these kinds of projects can have on our environment.

“None of this would have been possible, if it hadn't been for the continued support from the Immediate Steps fund,” Port Hills Park Trustee Alan McDonald said.

Future vision

The Port Hills Park Trust was established to administer the 235-hectare Mt Vernon Park as a recreational reserve, to conserve and enhance the natural environment, and to provide an opportunity for public recreation in the Port Hills.

The Trust has a wider vision to remove plant and animal pests and return this area to native forest. This project is an important first step in restoring the whole river catchment and connecting biodiversity corridors from the mountains to the sea / ki uta ki tai.

Find out more

To find out more about IMS funding, phone 0800 324 636 or email ecinfo@ecan.govt.nz.