Biodiversity boost proposed for Burgess’s Stream

Burgess’s Stream, near Eyreton, has been identified as a focus area for the first stage of Waimakariri Irrigation Limited’s (WIL) biodiversity project which is designed to restore and enhance local waterways.

The project focuses on 1600 hectares of shareholder land in the Burgess Stream and Old Eyre River catchment. Within that area, 6.3 hectares have been selected by the irrigation company as potential sites for riparian planting and wetland restoration.

Burgess’s Stream contains a cluster of springheads, along with pockets of native species which makes it an ideal site for restoration.

WIL CEO Brent Walton says homing in on areas which have the greatest potential for restoration is vital for the success of the project.

“We want to achieve real improvements for Waimakariri’s biodiversity values with this project which is why we’ve identified Burgess’s Stream as our first restoration site.

“The four shareholders whose farms intersect the stream are committed to being involved in on-the-ground improvements.”

Landowners supporting project

Landscape architect Dan Cameron and ecologist Dr Judith Roper-Lindsay, who created a feasibility report for the project, have been encouraged by strong landowner support for the project.

“We’ve held a series of farm meetings to connect with WIL shareholders whose farms border the stream and they are all keen to be involved in the project.

“It’s really heartening to see that some of them have already carried out native planting and getting everyone working together will take it to the next level.”

Protecting native species

Judith, who is also a member of the Waimakariri Zone Committee, describes the stream as having the potential to support additional native species.

“We saw invertebrates, birds and remnants of native vegetation, including native broom and this combined with the deep, fast flowing water makes it an ideal site for riparian planting and possibly a wetland.

“It also ties in well with what the zone committee is trying to achieve in terms of working collaboratively with communities to prioritise on the ground actions which have a positive impact on local waterways.”

Planning the next phase

Dan says the next phase of the project will focus on working with landowners to select and design the planting site and getting the right mix of native species for the soil conditions.

“It’s essential to consider what plant and animal communities would have been there in the past, while considering modifications to the land such as pivots, tracks and gates. We’ll be looking at more riparian planting and setbacks from the stream.”

Having the support of shareholders is vital to ensure ongoing improvements throughout the project and Brent says everyone involved with WIL realises they have an important part to play in improving Waimakariri’s waterways.

“We’re serious about making a difference and want to work together with organisations and local government to make a real improvement to our local streams and rivers for future generations to enjoy.”