Planting season begins

by Kent Caddick

Te Ara Kakariki has kicked off the 2018 planting season with volunteers planting more than 1,200 native seedlings at Reid’s Pit near Rolleston.

The Te Ara Kakariki Greenway Canterbury Trust is an incorporated charitable trust with the mission to undertake environmental restoration projects in Selwyn.

Around 50 members of the community turned up, including local scouting groups from Lincoln and Rolleston, to the site, which is a former gravel pit.

Te Ara Kakariki coordinator, Letitia Lum, said with the site being compacted after years of trucks going back and forth with loads of gravel, volunteers were grateful to find planting holes had been drilled in advance by contractors for the event.

The seedlings were provided by Selwyn District Council, and they have been planted on one corner of the Reid’s Pit site that will form part of an ecological area, which is being transformed into a habitat to support wildlife such as native skinks.

“Once the plants are established the public will be able to enjoy a short walkway weaving throughout the plantings,” Ms Lum said.

The entire site covers four hectares and will also include bike tracks of varying difficulty, walkways and picnic areas — all surrounded with native plants.

Reid’s Pit, located on the corner of Weedons Road and Selwyn Road is named after a local family who farmed the adjoining land.

Lincoln University entomologist and Te Ara Kakariki trustee, Mike Bowie, told those who attended the planting that many other local gravel pit sites also have the potential to be used for native restoration and habitat.

Ms Lum said Mr Bowie surveyed the Reid’s Pit site in 2016 and although there was minimal native flora — he found native skinks were present.

“Plants were chosen with the lizards in mind and planted on mounds left behind from the site’s working days.

“These will provide an ideal habitat for skinks to sunbathe or take cover from predators when needed.

Other seedlings were chosen for their ability to thrive in the site conditions, and some were chosen to attract native birds.

“Lincoln Scouts and Selwyn District Council provided a sausage sizzle, which was well appreciated by volunteers after their hard work.”

Te Ara Kakariki is holding other planting events during September. To sign up go to kakariki.org.nz or email office@kakariki.org.nz for more information.