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Long term gains in sight for Restoring Flora Project

18 Nov 2022

The Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance (KMTT)’s Restoring and Protecting Flora project is starting to make a difference with the $1.4 million central government Jobs For Nature funding allocated to habitat restoration in Buller/Kawatiri over three years.

As well as providing employment in Kawatiri, the project is controlling serious infestations of weed species in preparation for planting of native species that will further restore the environmental values at select sites.

The funding has provided for eight FTE jobs in Buller, and a team from local contractor MBC Environmental is controlling infestations of pampas, gunnera, blackberry, gorse, ginger, banana passionfruit, Himalayan honeysuckle, willow, flowering cherry and wilding conifers at around 30 ecologically significant sites across the region.

The Floating Basin and Lost Lagoon estuaries on the Buller River were among the sites nominated by Alliance partners for their ecological significance, and work currently under way to control many of the invasive cherry trees will be followed up with native plantings.

Flowering cherry is an exotic species that provides native birds with nectar for a short period in the spring. It spreads easily and tends to form dense stands that prevent regeneration of native tree species which would provide all-year-round food and habitat for our native wildlife. In some regions of New Zealand it is recognised as a high biosecurity risk for native habitats as it can easily spread into lowland native forest and scrublands.

Native nectar sources such as pōhutukawa, flax, kowhai, pigeonwood and ngāio are generally crowded out by the cherry trees, giving nectar-loving native birds a short-lived  food supply but leaving them hungry for the rest of the year.

Buller District Council Mayor Jamie Cleine said that he was delighted to see the Alliance’s project starting to make a difference to restoring habitat in Buller/Kawatiri.

“As KMTT partner right from the start, Council is very supportive of the Alliance’s projects and seeing the restoration of the Floating Basin estuarine area progressing is great. 

“The new plantings at this site will include native nectar trees that will replace the flowering cherries with a much more stable and reliable year-round food source and habitat. I am  looking forward to seeing the results of this rehabilitation work in an increase in biodiversity at this popular recreation location for Westport residents.”

The Nature Conservancy’s Hudson Dodd, Restoring and Protecting Flora project manager, said that the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance is also applying for further funding for native plantings across the region, to ensure ongoing control of weed species in significant sites.

“We are working with Alliance partners including Buller District Council, West Coast Regional Council and DOC to restore the native habitats at key Kawatiri sites. Initial intensive weed control is just the first step and will be followed by ongoing maintenance and native plantings to make sure the conservation gains are maintained.

“This project is starting to make a real difference, not just in Kawatiri but across Te Tauihu as well. It’s early days but we expect that in a few years, as the natives grow, we’ll see an increase in birds and other wildlife and richer native habitats for all to enjoy, and the employment opportunities are making a real difference to young people’s career prospects.”


Kotahitanga mō te Taiao  Alliance is a collective of iwi and councils from Te Tauihu and northern Te Tai Poutini, as well as the Department of Conversation, and global supporter The Nature Conservancy. The Alliance is dedicated to environmental restoration across our rohe.

‘Kia kotahi te hoe’ – further together.


For more information please contact:
Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Communications Lead
Caroline Crick
027 5458534

Buller District Council Communications and Community Services Officer 
Mira Schwill
027 403 6609