Canterbury Biodiversity Summer Update Published: 26/02/2014 Size

Canterbury Biodiversity Summer Update
Hi everyone, this newsletter is to keep you up to date on what’s happening with Environment
Canterbury Biodiversity funding and to hear about some of the great projects that are going on.
As we all get back into the swing of things here at Environment Canterbury, now is a timely reminder
to check on your plants as the heat of the summer dries out the ground and take its toll. The intense
heat and weed competition can dry out plants quickly so it is important to keep them well watered
and weeded, especially in the first few years. It is also time to begin thinking about ordering plants
for this years’ planting.
Biodiversity innovation in South Canterbury
The South Island common skink is now on the threatened species list due to the rate of its decline on
the Canterbury plains. Herpetologist Hermann Frank is leading lizard habitat restoration in South
Canterbury and support and awareness for the cause is increasing.
Rangitata farmer Ross Grant responded to Hermann’s plea to retain local biodiversity and has set
aside some of the stones from his farm to set up skink sanctuaries. He arranged for Hermann to trap
and move skinks before stones on his property were shifted. Over a period of 12 months, 100 skinks
were rescued through trapping and shifting of stone piles.
In late September, Hermann coordinated a team of volunteers to plant one of the sanctuaries at
Fitzgerald Timaru District Council road reserve. Plants were obtained through an Immediate Steps
grant from the Canterbury Water Management Strategy Orari-Opihi-Pareora Zone Committee and
eco-sourced from a local nursery.
Plantings were designed to provide cover and food for the skinks and deliberately sparsely planted
to avoid excessive shading. Some of the species in the stone mounds are Muehlenbeckia
ephedroides, Melicytus alpinus and silver tussock. The plants attract insects and also provide food for
native moths the skinks feed on.
Volunteers also transported about 15 trailer loads of stones to Otipua wetland to create a lizard
habitat near the walkway.
Ken Elliott spends around 10 hours a week volunteering his time in Otipua wetland and is currently
planting the new lizard habitat. The Otipua Wetlands Charitable Trust is hoping to set up several of
these sites throughout the wetland and they will also undertake pest control. Several skink have
been relocated to the wetland, but the sanctuary sites have not been yet been stocked.
Pit Road Reserve, a 23-hectare old gravel pit near Geraldine is currently being managed by the
Timaru District Council as the largest lizard sanctuary in South Canterbury. Mike Davies, one of the
local volunteers, undertakes regular pest control to give the resident skink population a helping hand
and the council co-ordinates weed control with help from volunteers.
Hermann believes farmers may have opportunities for lizard habitat restoration around their farm
storage ponds. Some of the stone screes that settle around the outside edges of the ponds are the
right size to provide habitat for common skinks, if the area is not excessively shaded. They can be
managed using the right plants and potentially restocked with skinks living nearby.
Maintaining Riparian Planting – weed & pest control post-planting
With any planting plan maintenance must be factored in. This will help protect the investment you
have made, identify any problems early on and ensure your plants will survive and grow as fast as
possible. Regular maintenance in the first 2-3 years will reduce time spent later on and can be easily
worked into other weed and pest management on your property.
Post-planting weed control
Plants should be kept free of grass and weeds for two years after planting. To assist with
plant survival:
 Apply mulch where practical to retain the moisture and suppress weeds.
 Check plants regularly and weed around the base of plants using a sharp grubber.
 If using chemicals to control weed growth be extremely careful not to contact the
plant. Protect with a spray shield or place bucket over the plant before spraying.
Combi-guards also help protect plants from spray drift. If the chemical contacts a
plant wash off with water immediately and/or remove affected leaves.
Post-planting pest control
Control for pests particularly when other food sources are low (early spring, late autumn).
Monitor plants for any signs of browsing and undertake control immediately if signs are
If using rabbit repellant sprays these need to be reapplied as per label instructions, and after
any persistent heavy rain.
For information on how to treat specific weeds look here
Our Changing World RNZ National Programme – Braided River Birds
The Our Changing World programme on National Radio will air a program on Braided River Birds
after the 9pm news, Thursday the 20th February – that’s tonight! This programme has people from
Environment Canterbury talking about the benefits and the difficulties of managing the habitat of
some of our most threatened species. Our Changing World is a great programme if you haven’t
heard it before you can check out past shows here
Or this episode
Braided River Bird – breeding season
At this time of year many of our endangered braided river bird species have just finished breeding
on the braided rivers of Canterbury. Environment Canterbury’s Park Rangers have put together this
video to help highlight the plight of these iconic species.
Comments on process/questionnaire
Currently an operational review of the Immediate Steps programme is being undertaken by the
Biodiversity Team. This seeks to highlight any areas we would improve on or things that work. If you
have any comments on the contracting process or what we could do to make the programme run
better, please let us know. You can send comments through to our Team Leader
[email protected]
**Funding for Biodiversity Projects**
Funding is still available for biodiversity projects. Projects that focus on protection or restoration of
the natural character of existing habitats and ecosystems are highest priority. If you have a
biodiversity project that you would like funding or advice for contact our biodiversity team on
[email protected] or check out our website for more information
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heading or email [email protected]
QEII/BPCT/TAK reps/ TA liaison, please distribute to grant recipients 
Kind regards, Mimouk