Big restoration and recreation project planned for Queen Elizabeth Park
Chris Maclean, Sam Maclean and Chris Laidlaw
An emerging forest abundant with native plants and animals will return to the north-east of Queen Elizabeth Park in the years ahead, thanks to the generosity of a $300,000 donation from Kapiti locals Chris and Sam Maclean through their Maclean Trust.
A total 25ha of land will soon be retired from the park's farm and rehabilitated through a restoration programme that will include the removal of invasive weeds, particularly gorse, and extensive re-planting of native species, leading to enhanced biodiversity and improved water quality.
"We are delighted to support the restoration of the extensive peatlands in Queen Elizabeth Park" says Chris Maclean. "We hope to create a thriving habitat for native plants and animals, to help return the area to its past glory. In pre-European times, wetlands extended from Paekakariki to the Manawatu river."
"Greater Wellington is extremely grateful to the Maclean Trust for this very generous donation to support restoration of the park environment," says Chair Chris Laidlaw. "It's through working together like this that we can greatly enrich our parks and better provide for our communities."
As well as habitat restoration the investment will also focus on improving recreational access to this part of the park. A new track for cycling and walking will link the restoration area with the very popular Te Ara O Whareroa trail in the park and the cycleways beside the new expressway.
The highly visible site, which is part of the Whareroa Steam catchment, lies at the north-eastern boundary of the park beside State Highway One and Poplar Avenue. Comprised mainly of peat, the land is relatively unproductive and will be retired from the farming. It is currently covered in gorse with patches of blackberry.
The transformation of the area will take place over six years, beginning in December this year. Starting with the development of a restoration plan which will include hydrology, soil profiling and species selection, plans will also include extensive planting (using contractors) and three years of active animal and weed control. Weed control will start before Christmas to prepare the area for restoration planting.
"Maintaining the flow of water throughout the area will be important for native species to thrive," says Parks Manager Amanda Cox. "We will need specialist hydrology advice to manage the water that drains from SH1 into the park, ideally filtering it through native vegetation before it enters the park's streams. Clean water is vital to healthy environments."
Managing the clarity and health of water courses in the area is also important in ensuring the integrity of the life force, or mauri, of the water. Combined with other stream retirement works in the Whareroa Stream catchment, careful management of our water resources will also improve mahinga kai," says Amanda
"It's wonderful to see the community getting behind this very precious regional park," says Chris Laidlaw. "Support such as provided by the Maclean Trust really does show that this is a peoples' park. With local financial assistance, local planting and restoration, governed by local and regional representatives, QEP has been embraced by the people of Kapiti."
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