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History of Friends of Greendale Reserve
The reserve was a contribution Mr J Napier, the developer of the Greendale Park, made to the KCDC Parks and Reserves Department in the mid 1990s. It was reluctantly accepted by Parks and Reserves. A monetary contribution would have been preferred by the Director to assist with the upkeep of other areas under his control.
Apart from a small grove of mature native trees at the south eastern corner of the reserve the land was in a poor state with abundant blackberry and boxthorn. Though there were some rather handsome Kahikatea, these all showed evidence of bark denudation at the bases the result of chewing by cattle and horses.
Initially the Council turned a blind eye to this unwanted acquisition and the reserve was taken over by some neighbours for free grazing of their horses and cattle.
Revegetation, How the Idea developed
Phil and Viola Palmer were in the process of establishing a native garden on our property which we had purchased in 1995. There were six large Kahikatea trees on our property and we realized these were once part of a forest which included the few surviving trees on the adjacent reserve. It seemed a worthwhile project to offer to revegetate the reserve and thus to increase the bird corridor into the area.
KCDC was approached
As a member of Forest and Bird Phil approached this Society for support in 1997 and an on- site meeting was arranged with the KCDC Director of Parks and Reserves Mr M. Cardiff.
At this meeting Mr Cardiff gave his support to the idea of revegetation and offered financial assistance to purchase plants.
Some members of the Kapiti Botanical group offered to practical help and the project began. Since this time many thousands of plants have been put in the ground.
There has been help financial help from both KCDC and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Forest and Bird organized planting days with its members participating including children belonging to the Kiwi Conservation Club as well as the general public.
A public meeting was later held for the local community and a group of Friends of Greendale Reserve later met to define what action should be taken to progress the project. Community planting days were organized by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Children from the Kenakena School were involved for several years planting and their efforts were rewarded by a Conservation Award in 2006 from the Wellington Conservancy.
One of the Friends of the Greendale Reserve, Mr Tom Graham, is a teacher at Kapiti College and he on a number of occasions organized pupils from the college to assist with planting.
A Certificate of Merit was also awarded in 2006 to all the other various groups involved in the Greendale project. There has been help from so many quarters that no recognition could be given apart from a general note of appreciation for all participants.
In the earlier period some help was given by young people on work training schemes.
There have been occasionally groups of visiting International young people who have volunteered their services.
The backbone of the whole project has a small group of retired people working on Tuesday mornings with a variable amount of help from KCDC staff and various contractors.
Revegetation of the reserve is nearing completion and increasingly maintenance is becoming the priority. There was a serious mistake in the planting of what were thought to be New Zealand ngaios obtained from a local nursery but which have subsequently proved to be the related species of Tasmanian origin. These are being removed but it is proving a time consuming task.
Initially the were high losses the result of pests(rabbits and hares) chewing the little plants as well as inclement weather conditions (frost, wind and droughts).
Despite these set backs good shelter has now been established. Young kahikatea are flourishing. We have now recognized the importance as far as possible to use locally sourced plant material. None-the-less although we accept the mistakes made in ignorance of inappropriate planting it is gratifying to observe natural revegetation taking place. Kohekohe was planted early on but failed to survive because of frosts. It is now establishing itself under the umbrella of more hardy species.
It is interesting how nature is dictating its own terms. The reserve includes slightly elevated areas which dry out in the summer because of the sandy nature of the soil. Here kanuka thrives.
In nearby areas water accumulates in small pools which may persist for several months after wet periods. Here various rushes, toetoe, carex and flax grow .
Kahikatea and pukatea do best between the two extremes. Initially we had not appreciated just how sensitive the various species were to their environment.
The stream banks are proving a problem because of flooding and the poor stability of the adjacent sandy ground. It is hoped some stabilization may be achieved by planting. This has been partially done already and will be probably completed this year by contractors employed by KCDC.
The reserve no doubt will be recognized in the future as a special area. It does give at least a glimpse as to what must once have existed before the land was denuded of its natural vegetation by settlers. There are paths through the reserve and a grassed circular area has been preserved where picnic facilities could be placed.
Hopefully if further subdivisions occur further down stream along the Muaupoko stream a riparian strip will be preserved with a walkway down to the Waikanae river.
Unfortunately, the present volunteers are getting older. We are particularly concerned about how the reserve will be maintained. We have been vigilant trying to keep abreast with invasive weeds but the task is already too great for us without additional help.