The owner of a 10-acre slice of paradise overlooking Christchurch City has been working with locals to transform the area into a valuable recreational asset for the community.
Over the past three years, Christoph Schacherer has worked with friends, neighbours, volunteers, and the wider community to plant more than 2000 native trees, shrubs and flaxes.
Plant species such as tōtara, mānuka, kānuka, and toetoe, now span three acres of his hill block in Huntsbury Gully.
The area that has been planted connects the Waterfall track that runs through Huia Gilpin Reserve, with Mount Vernon Park, on the opposite side of the valley. The track winds down the steep hillside to the gully below, where at certain times of the year a small waterfall can be seen in the gully floor.
Mr Schacherer has owned the property for around 25 years and three years ago received $10,000 of Immediate Steps (IMS) biodiversity funding.
“We’ve held planting days each year and there’s always a really good turnout. We’ve had families, friends and neighbours all come along with a packed lunch to sit and enjoy the view of the city below while they take a break,” he said.
Mr Schacherer's neighbour, John Howard, has been supportive throughout the project and regularly helps maintain the plantings, which may provide habitat for native bird species including tūī and kererū, and habitat for native lizards, once established.
The site previously had significant gorse cover but weed control work was carried out before the planting, and ongoing maintenance will help the plants become established, providing habitat for native bird species.
Much of the area was cleared by hand and mulch was placed around the base of each plant to keep weeds and grass away, giving the plants freedom to grow.
“Once the plantings have established the gorse will require a lot less maintenance and the hillside will become more stable, which will help reduce erosion in the area,” Mr Schacherer said.
The lifestyle property is located on land that is difficult to build on or develop, making it the ideal place for a native biodiversity corridor to be developed.
Christchurch City Council exchanged a significant portion of land around this area many years ago for more suitable land further down the valley that could be built on.
Mr Schacherer's house is located further down the hill and he comes up to the block to maintain the plants and enjoy his little slice of paradise.
“I wanted to keep the block and develop it not with buildings, but with nature. I hope to covenant it in the future, protecting it forever.
“I want to bring back the connection between people and nature and I want people to use the track, have picnics, and bring their kids along to enjoy the environment,” he said.