Construction of a new cycle trail along Jacksons Road has begun.
The two-metre-wide,1.3-kilometre trail is being built on road reserve running between Rapaura Road and Allan Scott winery and is expected to be completed by the end of August.
Walking and Cycling Coordinator Braden Prideaux says the trail is part of a wider vineyard cycling network that’s been developed in partnership with the Renwick Smart + Connected Bike Walk Group over previous years.
“The existing narrow road shoulder and the 100 km/h speed limit supported the proposal for an off-road trail, that will provide cyclists with an alternative when travelling this route,” he says.
Minimal disruption is expected during construction, however people travelling along Jacksons Road are asked to be mindful of the works.
Hopes to bring wild mussels back to the Sounds and boost marine diversity have moved a step closer.
An international team of experts are calling for Marlborough District Council to approve plans to create two new mussel beds in the Pelorus Sound.
And marine scientists hope the Marlborough project could spark mussel bed restoration initiatives in other parts of New Zealand.
The move comes after three years of investigation into the best way to create new seabed habitats.
Large areas of mussel beds were destroyed last century as land clearance and ongoing run off from farmland altered the nature of the seabed.
A report prepared for council by marine scientist Dr Andrew Jeffs says dropping clean shells to create a habitat for two new mussel beds in
the Pelorus Sound could stop further deterioration.
“For a number of years there has been concern, including from MDC, about the decline of wild shellfish beds in areas of the Marlborough Sounds.
“Studies in other areas have shown that mussel beds are extremely productive, support high biodiversity, act as nurseries for fin-fish species, and help to remove suspended sediment from the water column and stabilise the seabed,” the report says.
Scientists plan to drop clean shells to act as anchors for live mussels in a bid to test whether coarser seabed substrate will prove a better habitat than silt.
The multi-million-dollar project has attracted significant co-funding and specialist technical support from an overseas environmental NGO, The Nature Conservancy.
“One possibility for the lack of natural recovery of wild mussel populations in the Marlborough Sounds is the inability of mussels to re-establish naturally on this changed seabed substrate,” Andrew says.
“Mussels require sediment particles of at least 2 mm in diameter in order to attach their anchoring threads which hold them upright on the seafloor so they can feed,” he says.
The shell material and live mussels will be actively monitored by researchers.
The Marine Farming Association worked with other community groups, the University of Auckland and NIWA to develop the research plan.
History has been made during lockdown as a multi-million-dollar deal is signed to stamp out stoats.
There was little fanfare to mark the milestone occasion as the culmination of 16 years work was signed in just a few seconds.
A six-year funding commitment will see a combination of old-school techniques and technology help wipe-out stoats from New Zealand’s fifth largest island.
The 16,782-hectare D’Urville Island, in the Marlborough Sounds, is free of ship rats, Norway rats, possums and weasels.
Now, $3.1 million has been committed to stamping out stoats on the island.
D’Urville Island Stoat Eradication Charitable Trust (DISECT), Predator Free 2050 Limited, Rātā Foundation, Marlborough District Council, the NZ Lotteries Grant Board and landowners have all pledged their support.
Oliver Southerland and Angela Fitchett signing the Marlborough District Council agreement at a carefully prepared COVID-19 signing station. Photo: Supplied.
DISECT co-chair Oliver Sutherland says the moments mark the start of an opportunity to “reverse the history of wildlife loss.”
The project will use a variety of traps and lures, including automated luring with an egg mayo mix, as well as smart detection techniques such as cameras and DNA analysis.
Stoats have caused the local extinction of little spotted kiwi, yellow-crowned kākāriki and South Island kākā and threaten an important population of South Island long-tailed bats/ pekapeka.
Predator Free 2050 Limited chief executive Ed Chignell says the project will provide an important boost to the national Predator Free 2050 effort.
“This is a challenging and ambitious project with a lot at stake for wildlife and important opportunities for innovation and learning,” he says.
The government-owned funder is providing $975,000 and facilitating expertise from other projects around the country.
Marlborough District Council Mayor John Leggett says the restoration of wildlife could open new nature-based jobs and opportunities for the island.
D’Urville Island is New Zealand’s fifth largest island. Photo: Tamzin Henderson/ Driftwood Ecotours.
The council is providing $500,000 of support through its biosecurity programme.
Department of Conservation Sounds operations manager Dave Hayes says DOC has been providing technical advice to the project.
“We are pleased to support this community led initiative and will be continuing to provide expert advice and input throughout its duration of the project.”
Special attention will be given to trapping on the mainland within five kilometres of D’Urville and establishing a surveillance network to quickly detect any incursions across the narrow channel from French Pass.
Field work is expected to start towards the end of this year.
Department of conservation staff are looking for local explorers with a sense of adventure.
The annual summer explorer programme kicks off early next year and staff hope Marlborough residents will take up the challenge and join in.
Ranger Wendy Sullivan says it gives people the chance to uncover parts of the region they may not know.
“The Summer Explorer Programme is a great way to visit areas you haven’t been and take time to appreciate all that nature offers,” she says.
From an open day on Maud Island, and a boat trip to Pelorus Sound to a free nature treasure hunt at a range of walks, there will be plenty for people of all ages to see and do.
Staff will be on hand to help guide people through some of the best attractions on offer throughout the summer months.
Wendy says the fun starts with four open day on Te Pakeka/Maud Island, as well as a boat trip around Pelorus Sound.
“It’s renowned for its endangered insects and reptiles as well as home to the endangered Maud Island frog, so if you wanted a wildlife experience with a difference, it is well worth booking in,” she says.
Trips will be held on 5, 12, 25 and 26 January, and the boat trip is $135 adults/$65 children
A free nature treasure hunt at Momorangi campground will be held on Thursday 9 January. Rangers will help participants identify their finds with ID apps and books. Suitable for all ages.
Conservation Kids, Kids Conservation Club and East Coast Protection Group are combining forces to offer a three-part holiday series investigating through fun activities the wildlife of Marlborough’s east coast.
A huge range of other activities on offer at Envirohub Marlborough in Picton and Marlborough Tramping Camp will hold two walks, one to the Emerald Pools along the Pelorus River on Wednesday 12 January and Marfells Beach to Cape Campbell lighthouse on Sunday 22 January.
“Heading out with the tramping club on an organised walk is a great way to try out tramping or visit new places in a supportive group, Wendy says.
A key ingredient in a Marlborough-made gin is helping keep a notorious weed at bay.
Record hauls of gorse flower have been gathered at a community harvest event.
Six kilogrammes of the yellow flower were handpicked over four hours.
Twice a year, the team behind Marlborough’s new Elemental Distillery organise a local foraging event.
In a bid to entice people to pick the problem plant, which causes misery to hay fever sufferers every spring, Elemental Distillers co-owner Ben Leggett puts on a free BBQ.
But Ben himself is a big fan of the plant.
“I simply love it. Not only is it both aromatic, herbaceous and fruity but it’s somewhat of an anti-establishment botanical in a market already full of rogue exotic species.
“The only issue remaining is how to harvest it in peak flowering and in volumes enough to last until the following season,” he says.
The answer came in the form of eight off-road vehicles, one gourmet barbeque put on by Francis Nolan from Boom Chef, a large pine plantation, local volunteers and some very thick gloves.
Introduced around the early 19th century as a hedgerow for livestock by European settlers, gorse flourished in New Zealand’s temperate climate flowering twice a year compared to just once in the Northern Hemisphere.
Gorse also generates exploding seed pods which can travel over 6 metres from the parent plant and can lay dormant in soil for up to 50 years before sprouting.
Ben says thanks to a collaboration with Marlborough 4WD Club, 15 local volunteers headed up into Marlborough’s Kaituna Hills last month aiming for a 300-meter-high plateau located in Stoney Creek forestry.
“Without the support by Marlborough locals, we would never have been able to deliver a fresh botanical gin like that of Roots,” Ben says.
Marlborough could help lead the way in a national bid to help boost recycling levels.
The council’s solid waste manager Alec McNeil will oversee a pioneering project which could see people paid to drop off empty drink containers.
And he believes Marlburians will be quick to take up the initiative.
“Marlborough is used to source separation of recycling so the possibility of a future Container Recycle Scheme (CRS) should complement and add to our existing approach,” he says.
Under the scheme, which was unveiled last week, plastic, glass and aluminium drink containers will carry a refundable deposit, potentially between 5-20 cents each.
Helping people cash in on their empties could be key to boosting recycling levels.
Alec says he believes any initiative would rely on being readily available.
“A key focus of the design will be ensuring equity of service provision across NZ that affords all communities the opportunity to engage with the system,” he says.
“At a more strategic level a CRS changes the way we think about containers by reintroducing a value back into the material”.
Marlborough and Auckland councils will carry out the project design together following a government funding boost of almost $1 million.
Alec, who is project coordinator and deputy spokesman is a trustee on the Agrecovery Foundation Trust Board.
He says the scheme will help keeps useful resources out of landfills and has the potential to create new jobs.
The two councils will work with the Ministry for the Environment and others including the beverage, packaging and recycling industries, councils, retailers, charitable organisations, Māori and consumer representatives.
The application was initiated from involvement with the National Resource Recovery Group (NRR).
The NRR was convened by the Ministry for the Environment to consider a response to the recycling challenges facing NZ.
“In lieu of the contraction of markets particularly post the ‘National Sword’ policy implemented by China,” Alec says.
China has introduced strict rules around importing solid wastes as raw materials. The policy bans various plastic, paper and solid waste.
Alec says a CRS scheme would impact on material flow.
“Auckland and Marlborough councils offered to submit an application to the waste minimisation fund to facilitate a working group that would design a CRS for NZ.“
A final design is due to be presented to the Government by August 2020 and rolled out in 2022.
Reinforcements have been called in to help slash Marlborough’s pest population.
Department of Conservation (DOC) staff have organised experts to hold a Top of the South trapping workshop.
The workshop, held in Picton on 22 September, will highlight a range of topics from new techniques to pest behaviour.
There will also be a chance for people to get some hands-on experience.
DOC ranger Wendy Sullivan says the workshops are geared towards all levels of trappers.
“Whether you are part of a community group, run your own trapline or have a trap in your garden, you will go away with a better understanding of pest behaviour, best practice trapping techniques and monitoring success,” she says.
Alongside Picton Dawn Chorus and Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary, DOC have arranged for special speakers.
Zero Invasion Predators (ZIP) operations director Duncan Kay is involved with research and development into trapping tools and techniques.
“Their approach to research and predator control is challenging our current mindset and helping grow our predator control ‘toolbox’ unlike we have seen before,” says Wendy.
Participants then have the choice of attending one of two sessions.
The back to basics session will cover how to trap to successfully.
This will be followed by a hands-on round-robin session on rat/mustelid identification, calibration and maintenance of traps, and an in-depth look at using ‘DOC series’ and ‘Good Nature’ traps.
The second session is geared towards community groups and larger trapping programmes.
DOC expert Phil Clerke will join Wildlife Management International Ltd’s Nikki McArthur to share tips on how to set up an effective monitoring regime.
“There will be an optional afternoon field trip to Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary for workshop participants.
With over 70 volunteers and 250 members, Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary is a great example of seeing community conservation in action,” Wendy says.
Boat transport is subsidised at $10 per person. Bookings for both the workshop and optional field trip are essential.
After decades of boiling water households in Seddon have been given the go ahead to drink straight from the tap.
Residents have been given the all clear to stop boiling their drinking water, unless they’re making a cuppa.
The milestone move comes after the opening of a multi-million-dollar water treatment plant in April.
Marlborough District Council bosses yesterday revealed they had finally been given the all-clear from the Ministry of Health.
Council Chief Executive Mark Wheeler said this was a monumental milestone.
“Being able to turn on the tap and fill up a glass of water that’s safe to drink is something this community has been waiting a very long time for.
“Today, that day has finally come,” he says.
“I’d like to thank all of those involved in the treatment plant project over the years, particularly the Awatere Seddon Water Group, who worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition.
“Council’s water engineering team – Stephen Rooney, Stuart Donaldson, Mark Power, Erica Hobbs, and Robin Millard, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board staff, along with many others who put in the hard yards to deliver a world-class, modern water treatment facility.
“It’s great to see the community of Seddon benefitting as a result of everyone working together in a spirit of cooperation.”
Efforts to provide safe drinking water from the tap in Seddon have been underway since at least 1975.
From the outset, council and residents had to wrestle with the cost of modern water treatment for a small community.
Awatere Seddon Water Group secretary Liz Cleaver says the move is one more step on the road to recovery for the township.
“… our wee town is well on the way to recovery after the destructive earthquakes of recent years.”
Drinking Water Assessor for Nelson Marlborough Health David Speedy, acknowledged the huge effort put in by water treatment staff and technical advisors to collect and present the compliance information.
“The Council and community can be justifiably proud that this plant is working as designed and meets the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand,” he says.