ECO intern Emily Donaldson continues her series reviewing the results of a survey ECO undertook this year into the voluntary work being performed by groups to care for our environment in Aotearoa.
In this post Emily looks at the work of a small and energetic environmental group, Keep Golden Bay Beautiful.
Freshwater quality is currently at the forefront of New Zealand environmental management and policies. ECO’s annual conference this year in August addressed dialogues on freshwater, in attempts to “navigate impasses and new approaches” on a variety of interdisciplinary topics related to freshwater. Keep Golden Bay Beautiful, based in Takaka, is one environmental group working at the ground level to improve the freshwater quality in their locale.
A litter cleanup each year garners the most volunteers and publicity for this small environmental group, a recent respondent to ECO’s survey of the work being done by environmental groups around the country in 2014. Current project sites include the Onekaka River and the Takaka River Oxbow at the southern end of Paynes Ford Scenic Reserve (public land of Tasman District Council, DOC or Land Information New Zealand), which are dependent on a network of groups and individuals and community donations and volunteers. The TDC serves as a member of the group’s parent body- Keep New Zealand Beautiful.
Keep Golden Bay Beautiful predominantly aims to restore riparian vegetation and make sure the lowland river (which has a large number of invertebrate species and fish) is protected from agricultural pollution. Restoring these targeted five hectares to their indigenous state depends on riparian planting (especially of rare species), fence mending, releasing of plants, poisoning out crack willows, spraying weeds, and preparing new planting sites.
In 2014, volunteers contributed 160 hours of their time to these projects, adding to the 20 person-days of managing and working. This conservation work and health of the local waterways are wedded to the cultural identity of the community, which celebrates new citizens by presenting a local kowhai to every child born in the Bay the previous year.
Respondents to the survey recognized their progress over the past years. The lower part of wetland area is returning to its natural gravelly bed habitat as the willows die and release all the damned-up silt. This ecological restoration, in addition to intensifying forest cover along the river, nurtures a great habitat for freshwater fish and invertebrates. The public can already see the forest margin along this waterway and the notable improvement to freshwater quality.
While citizens, environmental groups and organizations, researchers, policymakers, farmers, and other stakeholders should endeavour to improve freshwater quality at every scale of influence in New Zealand, this grass-roots work is a commendable model for others like it.
ECO will continue to cover the intricacies of freshwater quality management and policy-making and highlight conservation efforts, like those of Keep Golden Bay Beautiful.
If you want to learn more about their work, please visit: