The 19 kilometre trail winds from the Ashburton Township to the river mouth at Hakatere, passing riverside willows and farmland on the way, and is a well-used walking and cycling track. The river itself is an important wildlife habitat for both birds and fish, and supports breeding colonies of the endangered black-billed gull.
Ashburton Water Zone Committee organised the event and member, Angela Cushnie, says it is part of an ongoing project to make the district a more beautiful place for everyone to enjoy.
“We’re a small community and it’s great to see so many people out there working together to make a positive difference and to show our children we all have a role to play in keeping our district beautiful.
“The planting was very successful and everyone had a blast, but it was also a great opportunity to talk to people and get their ideas about what other things we can do to improve the area and others across the district,” says Angela.
Fonterra Area Manager for Mid Canterbury South, Antoinette Archer, says everyone had fun and it was a wonderful opportunity to help a great cause.
“As well as helping out with the planting, we ran the BBQ for the post-match event, and we also brought along some Calci-Yum to make sure the volunteers were well-fed. It was great seeing so many different people from different organisations spend a bit of their time to improve the river for everyone.”
The volunteers spent two hours planting along the trail, followed by the BBQ.
Riparian planting helps improve water quality as the plants act like filters, helping to slow down any surface water running off the land into the river. They also filter out nutrients and sediment, removing at least 60 per cent of nitrogen and 65 per cent of phosphorous. The plants also create shade which reduces weed growth and helps bring the water temperature down providing a healthier environment for water life.