Planting programme off to a flying start
The project's planting programme has officially begun with 20,000 plants delivered by helicopter in early June to a privately owned farm near Woodville.
“This planting is the first of almost two million native shrubs and trees that will be planted as part of the project’s commitment to leaving the environment in a better condition than we found it,” says Lonnie Dalzell, Regional Manager Infrastructure Delivery, Central North Island.
A mix of riparian and wetland natives, the plants have been growing since last year at Kauri Park Nursery in Ashhurst, using seed sourced and grown early in the project. Twelve thousand seedlings were raised at Manawatū Prison through a partnership with Rangitāne o Manawatū.
The plants were carefully packed into 600kg bags and individually ferried by helicopter to the planting site, to be planted over several days.
The project's landscaping team has been preparing planting sites at the privately owned farm and the Massey Tuapaka Farm, ready to receive around 255,000 native plants this year. Planting at these sites is expected to run through to October 2021 and planning is underway for planting on other farms next year.
Site preparations included animal and plant pest control, installing water reticulation and building fences to keep the working farms separate from stream and wetland planting sites.
The rehabilitation of 38km of stream through riparian planting is part of the project’s ecological commitment.
Mr Dalzell adds: “The planting that has begun at the private farm near Woodville is part of this work, which will create significant ecological benefits by improving stream habitat and water quality.
“Right now, the focus is on getting the plants off to a great start and we have been very lucky with the weather.
"Over the long term, we are committed to ensuring that all planted areas will be managed until they are fully established and will be protected for many years to come.
"Starting planting now, away from the construction works, means these areas will have almost four years of growth before the road is opened.”