Rākau to be planted on west coast of Te Waipounamu

By Regan Paranihi

Economic Development Minister, Shane Jones, and Conservation Minister, Eugene Sage, have announced that 247,000 native trees will be planted as part of the One Billion Trees programme.

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will provide just over $2.2 million to plant 247,000 native trees in Punakaiki on the West Coast and Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury.

Jones says these two projects will have multiple benefits and opportunities for these regions.

“It's good for the economy and for our regional communities through creating jobs, providing skills training and enhancing ecological tourism opportunities in the regions.”

He also says, "Restoration programmes like these are a fundamental part of the One Billion Trees programme, not only to help us reach our tree planting target over the next ten years but as a way to support a community's social, economic, and cultural well-being,"

34 hectares of kahikatea forest would be restored by the Department of Conservation at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere says Sage.

“The lake's shoreline was once covered with native forest. Now there's barely any kahikatea swamp forest left in the whole of Canterbury so restoring kahikatea forest on the shores of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere has huge conservation and cultural value.”

Sage says the project will add to the work Ngāi Tahu are doing to protect the ecological values of the lake.

“The new forest will create a habitat for native birds and fish and improve the health of the lake."   

Planting native trees on the Punakaiki coastal flats should help increase the population of this at-risk native species by enhancing its breeding habitat," says Sage.