Georgetown Scout Group
Otatara & Sandy Point – Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand:
The Otatara Landcare Group (OLG) was formed in 1999 and was set up in response to a report by Dr David Given to the Invercargill City Council. He described the Natural vegetation in the Otatara and Sandy point areas as Nationally Significant due to the Podocarp forest on Sand Dunes, one of only two areas left in New Zealand. Our aim was to assist people with decision making regarding the bush on their sections and to show that we were prepared to do what we actually talked about we began a small habitat restoration project in one corner of the Bushy Point area.
The Bushy Point Reserve was created after the government rearrangement of various Government Departments in 1987 and since most of the area was in native bush the Department of Conservation (DOC) ended up administering this parcel of some 60 Hectares of which about 15 Hectares was in grazing. In 2002 DOC and the OLG had a discussion about us looking after the grazing area of the reserve and in particular creating a forest bridge across the paddocks to link up two separate areas of Bush, (something that was in the original report). We took the task on and DOC gave us a 30 concession to plant native trees in the area with a 30 year right of renewal. Since we started planting we have spent more than 13,000 hours and planted about 28,000 native plants in the area. Plants are quite expensive both in money and in the time taken to look after and we are always grateful when help is offered. In 2011 we completed planting the forest link and have continued to broaden that front ever since. Looking after the plants is very important because in the early stages grass grows more quickly than the plants and can smother and kill them by restricting the amount of light they get and this is where the Georgetown Scout group came in…
Effort by the Georgetown Scout Group:
One of the things we like to encourage in participation by our younger people and we had some 84 of you there from 10:00 am ~ Noon on Sunday 24th September 2017. We had two tasks to work on (There being too many people for working in one area)
Firstly: European Name: Flax
Maori Name: harakeke
Latin Name: Phormium tenax
These bushes are very important to Maori, the original inhabitants of New Zealand, they used them for weaving and clothing. In one area we had two of these bushes and as a bush they are a multi colony plant, they can be split up and planted separately and they will start a new colony. The Georgetown Scout group got right in the split up these plants and the pieces they split off were all planted very close by. The result of this will be additional food supplies for Tui, Bell Bird and many other native species. It will also help for a second forest link bridge between the main blocks of Forest and those along the coastal fringes.
Secondly: the second group went into a previously planted area and removed dead dried grass from around some of the smaller plants. This will allow them to get a much better head start into this year’s growing season and will enhance the forest link in this area.
Conclusion: Although your group was only there for a couple of hours and many of them were quite young when it is all added together there was some 188 hours of effort that went into the area on that day. That equates to something like one person spending 3~4 hours a week in the area for a whole year so we consider the effort put in to be quite significant.
Chairman, Otatara Landcare Group
Caretaker – Bushy Point Habitat Restoration Project