"The type of weedbusting work being undertaken is eradication of wilding pines and briar in the Lakes Alexandrina and McGregor area. To date, since September 2004, 160 volunteers have worked 942 hours in 7 organised work days and 3 extra days. Because of the physical area involved and the heavy infestation with briar, this is a very long term project.
The Trust is also attempting to educate hut owners and campers to plant only DoC approved native plants and to correctly remove any small wilding pines they may come across casually. In selected areas the Trust is planting DoC approved native plants and Trust members and their friends carry out watering of these plants whenever they visit the area in order to achieve as high a survival rate as possible. Watering times are not included in the hours worked as this is impossible to calculate.
We became involved in this work mid 2004 after the Department of Conservation sent out a postal survey to people who had huts or camped at Lake Alexandrina to assess interest in setting up a Conservation group in the area and 80% of those surveyed responded positively. Laurence and I attended a meeting run by Neville Parminter in Geraldine and were dismayed to find a very negative attitude displayed by the only other four meeting attendees. We both thought the idea of working with DoC to protect and enhance the area was a brilliant one, so we actively promoted the concept among other campers and hut-holders in the area and arranged another meeting with Neville. Consequently a Conservation Group was set up to cover the whole area comprising all the landowners, hut-holders and campers in the Lakes Alexandrina & MacGregor reserve. The group achieved Charitable Trust status in 2005 as we became aware that funds would be necessary to purchase tools, herbicides and native plants, and to employ expertise for the removal of established source pines.
The outcome we want from this work is to:
Promote awareness of environmental issues in the Lake Alexandrina reserve area.
Undertake a programme of environmental restoration within the Lake Alexandrina reserve area
Train people to undertake restoration work in the Lake Alexandrina Reserve Area
To do this the following tasks are being undertaken:
Weed removal, in particular wilding pine and briar
Undertaking bird surveys of the area
This list is by no means complete and will be added to as the need becomes apparent.
Barriers encountered mainly resulted from ignorance on our part combined with enthusiasm to get on with the task. This resulted in a few people being upset that source pines and clumps of briar were removed. However, following a bumper attendance at the 2005 Outlet Hut-holders’ AGM these issues were well aired and resolved to nearly everyone’s’ satisfaction. One major highlight of this meeting was a proposal from one of the “knockers” to provide a $1000.00 donation to the Trust and its unanimous approval. Another highlight were the numerous messages of support we subsequently received and the frequent comments heard at working days that “It is great to have people from every area working together for the common good and getting to know each other.” We always have a social debrief session at the end of working days to facilitate networking and good fellowship.
Partnerships developed to assist in the project consist mainly in people from all areas of the reserve including the landowners. Andrew Simpson, in particular, has been very supportive, often turning up at workdays with his tractor to facilitate briar removal. We also greatly appreciate the help and support of the Twizel DoC staff and their friendly educational input. Recently Trust members and volunteers completed a Crested Grebe count for Forest and Bird and anticipate doing more of this sort of thing in the future."