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The group initially formed in 1999 around the issue of rabbit management. The group membership includes all landholders in the Upper Rangitata catchment as well as representation from the agencies and organisations involved in the management of natural resources in that area. The group is currently working on a co-ordinated programme of Broom control but also meets to discuss land management issues (i.e. vegetation monitoring in the high country; undertaken wilding pine work, pest issues etc), recreational issues (hunting access, fishing access, Dydimo control) and is active in advocating for the conservation of both natural and social/historic resources (Mt Harper Ice Rink and Forest Creek Hut).
The Rangitata Gorge Landcare Group has led the development of a catchment wide strategy to undertake a collaborative approach to control broom within the upper Rangitata River systems and adjacent lands. The approach is to eradicate any woody weed species that threatens the open braided river system, resulting in the loss of nesting habitat. This strategy integrates the resources of multiple agencies (DOC; LINZ etc) to develop a yearly work programme which co-ordinates weed control efforts.
A combination of aerial application, ground spraying and hand methods are used. The group has been working hard to raise awareness of the threat to habitat that broom poses in the catchment and to get other catchment users involved (i.e. tramping clubs, fisher people, 4 wheel-drivers and jet boaters). They have been doing this through informing clubs of upcoming ‘control days’ and promoting their work within the local media.
They are an enthusiastic group who are passionate about caring for the unique braided river system for future generations and are committed to the efforts required to see this happen. They have been working in an integrated and collaborative manner to address this issue for over 11 years and are not showing any signs of slowing down. If anything, recent changes with Tenure Review and the establishment of O Tu Warekai Wetland Programme in the catchment it has increased the expenditure on broom control by the Department of Conservation. In 2007 the group was awarded $30,000 in funding towards broom control on private land from the Biodiversity Condition Fund. The group was nominated for a Weedbusters Award and won the Canterbury award for Overall Excellence and Work on private land in 2010.