Planting project creates habitats for native species in Selwyn

Green dots are appearing all around the Selwyn district. And they’re growing every year. But there’s no health hazard here – these green dots are little biodiversity hotspots, where parts of Canterbury’s native flora and fauna can flourish.  

Areas around Selwyn have been planted with native trees and shrubs thanks to the work of the Te Ara Kākāriki Greenway Canterbury Trust, a non-profit organisation dedicated to increasing biodiversity in the district by creating a corridor of green spots linking the mountains to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. 

Te Ara Kākāriki is achieving this by working with landowners to provide advice on how and where they can create greenspots on their land, and by hosting public planting days, or helping with corporate planting events. 

The Selwyn community joins in 

Students from Ladbrooks School participate in a plant out

Students from Ladbrooks School participate in a plant out

Public planting days began in 2009 and have grown steadily. Each year new sites are planted, and existed sites extended and maintained by an army of volunteers that include local university and school students, cultural and scouting groups, families and individuals. 

In 2015 the greendot project really took off with the addition of Kids Discovery Plant-out days, which Te Ara Kākāriki hosts in collaboration with the Enviroschools programme.  

Last year, 14 Selwyn schools took part in the plant-out days. Each school ‘adopted’ a greendot site nearby, and students got their hands dirty planting and learning about ecology in the field. 

Extending the project 

This year promises to be a big one for the greendot project, with additional planting days scheduled to take place in autumn for the first time.  

Landowners can contact the trust to find out how they can get involved planting on their land. Applications for 2021 planting assistance will be opening in May this year.

A public planting day is planned for May 3 along the Huritini/Halswell river in Tai Tapu, with funding from Environment Canterbury’s Immediate Steps programme. Before then, two plantout tours will be held, with an ecologist guiding guests around sites in Lincoln/Tai Tapu and Hororata.  

In addition, five local schools will take part in individual Kids Discovery Plant-out Days at Ahuriri Lagoon this autumn, helping with the restoration of the wetland.  

Why it’s popular 

For the kids, it’s not just about getting out of the classroom and planting trees. They participate in a range of activities, including searching for invertebrates and other biodiversity at their site, learning about traditional Māori practices like harakeke/flax weaving and herbal tea preparation, and taking cuttings to create new seedlings. 

These activities are led by students from Lincoln University and members of Ngāti Moki marae

It’s now been six years since the programme started, and every year, students return to watch the greenways grow, providing habitat for native birds and shelter for tuna (eels), especially in and around the Waikirikiri/Selwyn, Hurutini/Halswell and Ararira rivers, which all feed Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. 

Since the greendot plantings began, more than 97,000 native seedlings have been planted at 84 sites around the region. This year, Te Ara Kākāriki will celebrate seedling number 100,000 going into the ground.