Denis Blomquist, Ian Price, Paul Briggs and Malcolm Hugman at Paremata Flats, where they have planted close to 80,000 trees. Photo: Kate Russell.

Massive Paremata Flats planting project finished

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After five years of planting close to 80,000 trees and countless numbers of volunteer hours, the Paremata Flats Restoration project has reached the end of its journey.

Over that time, a dedicated team of over 1000 volunteers have rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in at the reserve near Cable Bay, and raised $190,000 in the process.

Project coordinator and driver Ian Price says it’s been quite the journey, and he can now look back at all the hard work and breathe a “sigh of relief.”

But he says, although the planting is complete, the work won’t stop. Volunteers will be back to to weed the reserve once a week from the end of June, with ongoing working bees.

“The major part of it is now over, which is fantastic,” says Ian.

“But weeding and trapping will be ongoing – we have over 50 trappers checking traps twice a week.”

Ian took over the project from Nelson City Council in 2011, under the umbrella of Forest and Bird.

He approached the council after attending a planting day and felt like the project needing stepping up a notch or two.

Paremata Flats have been ranked by the council as the most ecologically important land it owns or manages, and, as a result, was happy for Ian to continue with the planting.

Ian says the reason the land is so important is that it’s an interface between estuary, land and river. It has a small area of unique lowland forest and a small population of locally-endangered fernbird and banded rail.

Ian said the planting went more or less smoothly, but they did run into a crisis in March and April after a significantly dry autumn.

“Things dried out, so we had to step in with 14.5 litres of water to save the trees,” he says.

“It was a major nightmare and it took an incredible amount of time, but it really reflects the professionalism of the whole project and the dedication of the volunteers, who come from as far as Richmond to help. These people don’t get paid – it’s just been a great team effort.”

Ian says he has gained a huge amount of personal satisfaction from the project – formally a farmer in the King Country, he wanted to make up for the damage he did to the environment.

“It’s about giving something back, and I feel like I have really returned something to the environment. It has been a tremendous project that has been exceptionally well managed.”

Ian says that they are always looking for more volunteers to help with the weekly weeding, and encourages them to visit the website www.paremataflats.co.nz for up-to-date information.