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Restoring the richness of the Rangitata river

A major Jobs for Nature project to protect and enhance some of the South Island’s most unique habitats and restore the health of the Rangitata River highlights the important role farmers have in caring for the land, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.

“Canterbury’s braided rivers are an iconic part of the landscape and are home to a range of special birds and wildlife that have adapted to an ever-changing environment,” Allan says.

“We’ve seen with the recent floods how protection of these types of rivers – only found in a few other places globally – is critical to the survival of the area’s biodiversity.

“We are investing in two initiatives: an $8.7 million project focusing on the Lower Rangitata, led by Te R≈´nanga o Arowhenua, and a $7.3 million project focusing on the Upper Rangitata, spearheaded by the Upper Rangitata Gorge Landcare Group."

Part of the Department of Conservation’s Nga Awa river restoration programme, the Rangitata is one of fourteen rivers of significance.

“The Upper Rangitata project will see farmers and landowners partnering with DOC and other agencies to fence off stock, restore wetlands, trap pests, and propagate and plant eco-sourced and culturally significant natives in a joint move to improve water quality and enhance biodiversity values along the riverbank. 

“It recognises the intrinsic values of this special area, which runs through some of the South Island’s best known high country stations including Mt Peel, Erewhon and Mesopotamia.

“The project on the Lower Rangitata, the section of the river from the Gorge to sea comprising a 65 km river run, focuses on the braided fairway, berms next to the main river channels, wetlands, and intensively farmed riparian margins within the lower catchment.

“Supporting and championing people to connect to their whenua, learn and apply new skills, while also leaving an enduring conservation legacy is the focus of our Jobs for Nature programme.

“The last few years have been challenging ones for Canterbury. This is a fantastic multi-pronged initiative that will have major benefits for the environment into the future,” Allan says.

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