Caring for the environment  |  5 May 2022

The Styx Living Laboratory Trust is marking its 20 year anniversary this month.

The Trust was set up in 2002 to achieve Vison 3 of the Christchurch City Council document Styx Vision 2000-2040, which is to create a living laboratory that focusses on research and learning in the Pūharakekenui/Styx catchment.

“The trustees, staff and volunteers, are advocates for maintaining water quality and other values including ecology, drainage, culture, heritage, landscape and recreation in the awa. We are passionate about the Pūharakekenui and want it to remain clean, healthy and biodiverse so that it is available for future generations to use and enjoy,” says the Styx Living Laboratory Trust’s Conservation Projects Manager Bethany Baker.

Along with Council, the Trust has spent the last 20 years working on protecting freshwater quality, restoring ecological function and viability of vulnerable waterways.

“So much incredible work has been achieved over the past two decades from strong environmental advocacy and long term water quality improvement to bird monitoring and significant forest planting,” says Council Parks Biodiversity Team Leader Dr Antony Shadbolt.

The Trust has recently received $4.2 million from the Ministry of Environment’s Freshwater Improvement Fund and Jobs in Nature which will go towards planting more than two hectares of forest and two hectares of riparian planting planned for each year over the next five years.

“We will also be working on eradicating grey willow from the upper catchment and putting in stock proof fencing along the waterways,” says Dr Shadbolt.

As part of the celebration, the Christine Heremaia Field Centre will be officially opened on Saturday 7 May to further research development in the Pūharakekenui catchment and host school visits and community workshops.

The field centre has been 20 years in the making and will be the base of the Trust’s eight staff, with three more joining the team in July.

“When arriving at the field centre you’ll notice the stunning views of the Pūharakekenui awa nestled in amongst older riparian plantings. It’s the perfect place for our operations and we welcome the community to come to our Field Centre and experience some of magic of the Pūharakekenui,” says Ms Baker.