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January 2012 Photos
These trees were planted over the summer between Nov 2010 - Feb 2011, using funding for plants from the DOC Community Conservation Fund. Over 2,000 hours of volunteer labour was donated to clear and plant the 2 hA area, with some funding provided by ECan and Waimakariri District Council for contract labour to boost the volunteer effort. Conservation Volunteers and Fonterra Catchment Care also supplied volunteer assistance on several occasions.
We were able to plant in the heat of summer because the ground in this area is low-lying, with a high water table, and hence permanently moist. Another major factor is that we retained the willow canopy as a nursery to protect the plants from evapotranspiration due to wind and sunshine. Some of the trees have achieved a phenomenal 2m growth in just over a year, and the success rate was between 90-95%. All trees were protected using Combiguards, and we had a good strategy for dealing with the rabbits and hares.
The key to preparation of this area prior to planting was taking extreme care with the clearing of weeds. The whole area was a tangled mess of blackberry, wild rose and various noxious vines, the bulbous roots of which we dug out with grubbers and threw on woody piles to keep them off the ground. All gorse, broom, hawthorn and elder was cut to ground level and the stumps painted with 5:1 Roundup. The rubbish was stacked in huge wedge-shaped piles that we could walk up and dump in layers. The piles were eventually driven over by a huge slasher/mulcher, which could throw the decimated timber up to 50m in all directions! The deep mulch made an excellent base for planting, and has allowed the trees to easily surpass the resurgent weeds.
The plants were eco-sourced and propagated at the DOC Motukarara nursery, and delivered close to site in October 2010. Many of these were too small to plant immediately, so they were planted in phases over a 4 month period, the largest and most root-bound being planted first. This allowed the smaller plants to grow and harden up under a daily automated watering regime.