The La Fontaine Enhancement Project was initiated by local farmer and adjoining landowner Steve Davie. It involves interested members of the local community in a project to re-vegetate a stretch of riparian margin along the La Fontaine stream, Hari Hari, directly upstream from the Petersen Road Bridge. The status of the land is Marginal Strip (Public Land), administered under the Conservation Act.
On-site meetings with local people, DCO staff from the Franz Josef Area Office and Shelley Washington from Landcare Trust, resulted in a proposal to establish a small nursery for the propagation of native plants, using locally collected seeds, to be then planted out along the La Fontaine.
Funding has been received by way of a generous grant from BOC Gases.
On-site progress to date has included the spraying, last autumn, of Blackberry. A good result was achieved and minimal follow-up will be needed. Likewise, a few willows planted (unsuccessfully) for the control of bank erosion have been killed. Ragwort is likely to be an ongoing issue, because of re-infestation from further upstream. This will have to removed manually once planting has been carried out and the plants get established because the use of chemical spray will not be possible.
Some flaxes and sedges collected locally were planted by Years 5 & 6 students from South Westland Area School in the autumn. Since then further plantings of flax, carex and toe toe have occurred. Establishment appears to be satisfactory, notwithstanding the efforts of the local Pukeko population.
Although large numbers of nursery reared plants will not be available until Spring 2005 some material is available as a result of propagating and potting carried out by members of the Hari Hari Scout Group. Planting sites will be shortly prepared by spot spraying with Glyphosphate (Roundup), and planting will be undertaken by SWAS students in the near future. It appears that plants will require some protection from the Pukekos and there will be an ongoing need for grass suppression.