We have been fortunate having input into our work by two experienced ecologists. The first one was the late Geoff Park who was asked by DoC to write a restoration plan for the estuary. His vision of establishing a seed source in the estuary by planting in small nodes was largely achieved during the first five years. In 2010 Isobel Gabites revised and updated the plan to provide direction for the next period. In line with her plan we are planting good successional plants, i.e. lower ground cover and shrub species. The aim is to restore the estuary’s natural successional processes, given past human interventions and modifications.
We have learnt a lot on the way. Initially plants were bought for the project, however it soon became apparent that we needed to grow our own: to ensure plants were in fact ecosourced; that genetically robust plants were planted; that plants were site hardened in a shadehouse adjacent to the estuary; and to keep costs down. We have recently upgraded in 2020 to be able to produce most of our own hardened plants and rely heavily on the services of the local seed bank.
The estuary is an extremely windy and salty environment, which also experiences frosts. Apart from that, our biggest challenge has been weed control. More effort is now being placed into site preparation. Common invasive weeds include: blackberry, periwinkle, bindweed, buckthorn, boneseed, boxthorn, pampas and gorse. A recent DoC Weeding Plan, created by Mike Urlich, directs how the Scientific Reserve weeds will be tackled to achieve our Vision.
In December 2020 the Group became part of the Waikanae Jobs for Nature programme (DoC) and has been using people from the programme to accelerate the clearance of pervasive weeds, prior to long term planting of these areas.