Birdsong project grows after Chch couple's $100k donation


Volunteers at a planting day for the Birdsong Project at the Scargill Motunau Recreational...
Volunteers at a planting day for the Birdsong Project at the Scargill Motunau Recreational Reserve last year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The Christchurch couple who anonymously donated $100,000 to Hurunui's Birdsong Project are ‘‘impressed’’ with the community support it is receiving.

Since work began on the restoration project at Scargill Motunau Recreation Reserve in Greta Valley last winter, community members have contributed more than 300 volunteer hours planting around 2000 native plants.

The reserve, which has been owned by the Hurunui District Council since the middle of last century, is already highly valued in the community for the sports facilities, the established exotic tree plantings, the walking tracks and the community hall.

The council’s water and land co-ordinator Rima Herber says the restoration of the wetlands and stream areas will contribute to the beauty of the reserve and create a balance between the exceptional exotic plantings and the native biodiversity indigenous to the area.

‘‘The Christchurch couple wanted to put money towards a project that had both community and environmental outcomes,’’ Rima says.

‘‘Birdsong turned out to be exactly what they were wanting to support, and they have been very impressed with progress and with the wonderful community support the project has received.

‘‘The reserve is the perfect home for such a wonderful community investment, a beautiful destination with tracks through mature oak and redwood forests, extensive stands of various conifers, and a view point across the Scargill Valley to the mountains beyond,’’ she says.

‘‘As a contribution to the environment, giving money to community groups is a great way to maximise outcomes, as so much of the labour input is given voluntarily and the money gets stretched to the max.’’

Environment Canterbury has donated about 1400 plants for the project. The Birdsong Trust, which oversees the Birdsong Project, also bought plants from Goughs Nurseries in Swannanoa

The Birdsong Project ‘‘has the potential to continue on all the way down to Scargill, and eventually the Ti Papa Stream will have native vegetation present over long stretches, continuing on from the work already achieved in the Greta Valley township’’, Rima says.

‘‘This will be a long-term undertaking, and if the project can source the required funding, it will continue indefinitely over many decades.’’

Volunteers say a favourite part of the project is people of all ages joining in, from youngsters enjoying the learning experience, to more senior members of the community who had planted trees in the reserve 50 years ago.

Birdsong Trust co-chairperson Jo Loe says care has been taken to only plant species that flourished in the landscape before humans arrived, creating a place where birds and other native ‘‘critters’’, will thrive, and people can connect with nature.