30 Apr 2020

Abseiling pest-plant control experts will rappel down rocky areas to fight off an invader threatening indigenous species on Banks Peninsula following support from the Christchurch City Council’s Biodiversity Fund.

The Council has approved funding for seven conservation projects, including abseiling specialists carefully targeting spur valerian in Ohinetahi Bush Reserve, along with work on Mount Evans.

A unique bluffs ecosystem on Banks Peninsula that shelters rare plant species will also have wider protection from stock following funding approval for extensive fencing to aid regeneration.

In total, the Council has approved more than $130,000 in funding, including $40,000 for the View Hills Bluffs ecosystem.

All projects support private landowners who are taking voluntary action to protect biodiversity on their properties.

Three Waters Infrastructure and Environment Committee Chairperson Councillor Pauline Cotter says that the Council’s Biodiversity Fund “supports the necessary measures and game-changing methods to protect our environment, with all seven projects integral to indigenous species survival”.

“In particular, spur valerian – an invasive plant that threatens New Zealand’s biodiversity – requires an innovative approach to control,” she says.

“As an isolated country for many years, New Zealand’s ill-prepared flora has wilted as invasive flora and fauna have spread across the landscape.

“Spur valerian rapidly turns into dense growths, shading out other species and threatening rare native plants that populate rocky areas around Banks Peninsula.

“Many of the special species found in the 150-hectare Ohinetahi Bush Reserve – including the critically endangered Banks Peninsula forget-me-not – and on Mount Evans are being crowded out.

“These invaders are a huge threat to our indigenous species, choking flora and, in turn, endangering fauna. The Christchurch City Council is partnering with landowners to act swiftly to ensure that biodiversity thrives in our own backyard.”

Work to protect a waterway and indigenous trees, shrubs and ferns in Luke Thelning Reserve in Okains Bay and an indigenous forest that supports weta, and New Zealand flora and fauna in Goughs Bay will receive $21,440 and $17,737, respectively.

Possum control and stock exclusion projects around Purau Creek in Port Levy and the Little Akaloa headwaters will also benefit from $11,229 and $4000 in funding, respectively.

“By contributing to the regeneration of these areas and preventing stock from straying into indigenous vegetation, we can improve the local habitat, including waterways,” Cr Cotter says.

“It’s more effective to be proactive rather than reactive in tackling non-indigenous threats to our environment head-on. We need to build up our defences against these invasive species – from possums to spur valerian.”

The $200,000 annual Biodiversity Fund supports and encourages initiatives that protect and enhance indigenous biodiversity in Christchurch and on Banks Peninsula.

Individuals or groups can apply for a grant worth up to $40,000.