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Project River Recovery

Project River Recovery

Winner of the 2011 Green Ribbon Award, Project River Recovery (PRR) is a Department of Conservation (DOC) programme that aims to maintain and enhance river and wetland habitats in the upper Waitaki River basin.

PRR also carries out research that aims to improve how weeds are managed in braided rivers. One recent trial tested the effectiveness of a new more environmentally-friendly herbicide for use on Russell lupins around waterways. A second trial examined the viability of Russell lupin seeds in relation to their stage of seed pod development when herbicide is applied, to determine whether our weed control operations can effectively be extended to later in the season. The results of both trials are currently being analysed.

PRR is funded by Meridian Energy Limited (previously the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ) under a compensatory agreement that recognises the adverse effects of hydro-electric power development on rivers and wetlands. The compensatory agreement was signed in November 1990 and is tied to the term of ECNZ’s water rights, which expire on 30 April 2025. Project River Recovery began operations in late 1991.

The compensatory agreement states that PRR’s objective is “to carry out jointly agreed programmes of wetland habitat restoration and enhancement with the goal of providing habitat and conditions equivalent to or greater than the net loss of habitat and conditions attributable to the Waitaki hydro-electric power development”.

DOC and Meridian Energy review Project River Recovery’s funding and direction every seven years. Project River Recovery and Meridian Energy aim to maintain and build on their constructive, mutually beneficial relationship.

This strategic plan outlines PRR’s origins and achievements to date, describes its long-term vision, guiding principles and objectives.

PRR’s objectives for its third seven year phase of operation are to:

  1. Maintain indigenous vegetation and protect or restore riverbed and wetland habitat by removing problem weeds.
  2. Explore opportunities to enhance wetland protection in the upper Waitaki Basin.
  3. Continue to build knowlege of natural heritage in braided river ecosystems.
  4. Test the effectiveness of large-scale predator control for population recovery of braided river fauna.
  5. Facilitate research by external agencies to improve our understanding of the ecology of braided river systems.
  6. Increase public awareness of braided rivers and associated wetlands.

The Project includes groundbreaking research,  including a five-year video camera study that determined the causes of nest failure for three braided river bird species – banded dotterel/turiwhatu, black stilt/kakī and black-fronted tern/tarapirohe. It confirmed that  introduced predators – particularly feral cats, ferrets and hedgehogs – are the main cause of nest failures for these braided river birds. Project River Recovery and the Kakī Recovery Group are working together to test a catchment-wide predator trapping regime in the Tasman River. This project involves a range of predator control and monitoring techniques.

Exotic weeds including Russell lupin, broom, gorse, wilding conifers, and crack willow are  being controlled over 33,000 ha of riverbed, to maintain and restore native plant communities and wildlife feeding and breeding habitat. The highest priority is given to preventing weed invasion of the near pristine ‘upper rivers’ above the Basin’s uppermost hydro lakes.

An eradication programme is also run for yellow tree lupin and buddleia in the upper Waitaki Basin, along with ongoing surveillance programme to spot any new invasive weeds that could threaten braided rivers.

Research is also carried out with the aim of determining how to improve how weeds are managed in braided rivers. One recent trial tested the effectiveness of a new more environmentally-friendly herbicide for use on Russell lupins around waterways. A second trial examined the viability of Russell lupin seeds in relation to their stage of seed pod development when herbicide is applied, to determine whether our weed control operations can effectively be extended to later in the season. The results of both trials are currently being analysed.

Contact

Te Manahuna / Twizel Office
Phone: +64 3 435 0802
Fax: +64 3 435 0852
Email: twizel@doc.govt.nz
Address: Wairepo Road
Twizel 7901
Postal Address: Private Bag
Twizel 7944

Research

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