Fencing and Planting TeamWinter 2024 update

The Forest Bridge Trust is widely recognised for its efforts in predator control and wildlife habitat conservation. However, an equally impactful area of work, which has been quietly advancing in the background, is supporting farmers and landowners in implementing effective sediment control and restoration practices. These efforts aim to protect waterways and improve the health of the Kaipara Moana.

Katie Forno and Angela Parkin, who serve both The Forest Bridge Trust and Kaipara Moana Remediation (KMR) as Field Advisors are spearheading transformative initiatives. Established in October 2020, the Kaipara Moana Remediation Programme represents the largest landscape program currently underway in New Zealand, symbolising a new era of co-governance and collaborative problem-solving to rejuvenate the health and mauri of the Kaipara Moana.

Katie and Angela are instrumental in connecting farmers and landowners with crucial funding opportunities, such as the Landowners Grants Scheme and the Whenua Whānui Fund. These grants support projects that involve fencing off waterways, wetlands, and native bush in riparian areas—a cornerstone of sustainable land management.

As Field Advisors, their approach is centred on understanding the challenges faced by landowners, effective communication, patience, resilience, optimism, and mahitahitanga (unity). They aim to empower individuals by showing them that with support and respectful guidance, they have the power to make a tangible difference in restoring and preserving our natural landscapes.

We are delighted to report on some of the work Katie and Angela have been focusing on over the last 6 months.

Fencing & Planting Team - Winter 2024 Update

Angela has been working with two forward-thinking Kaiwaka Dairy farmers who decided to retire their cutover pine block and restore it to a permanent indigenous forest. This decision is particularly important because the land is highly erodible and steep; any sediment generated during heavy rainfall events could impact Cook Creek, eventually flowing into the Hakaru River, Topuni River, Oruawharo River, and ultimately reaching the Kaipara Moana.

In addition, Tania and Innes have embarked on retiring and restoring one wetland on their property. They are grateful for the support they’ve received from KMR, TFBT, and Fonterra, which has helped breathe life into their restoration project. Unsure of where to begin or which projects to prioritise, they found invaluable guidance and assistance from the various partners.

This project represents a successful collaboration between Fonterra Sustainable Dairy Advisor Ben Herbert, who helped secure a KMR fencing grant for Tania and Innes, and The Forest Bridge Trust Field Advisor, Angela Parkin. Together with additional expertise from KMR’s planting specialist Dave McDermott, they developed a comprehensive sediment reduction plan. This plan outlines the necessary actions to facilitate the natural native regeneration of the cutover pine block and the restoration of the wetlands.

Despite the challenges posed by competing priorities on the farm, access to expertise and grants has empowered these farmers to take action. They are committed to ‘doing the right thing’ by reducing sediment entering waterways and safeguarding the precious Kaipara Moana.

Kathy and Dave Carr from Kaukapakapa have also benefited from Angela’s expertise. They have long desired to retire and restore the coastal frontage of their farm along the Kaipara Moana but felt unsure about how to begin. Seeking guidance, they reached out to KMR and were connected with The Forest Bridge Trust and Angela. Angela listened to their vision of expanding their protected and covenanted Kahikatea Forest Remnant and wetland, then supported the Carr’s through the process of applying for a KMR fencing grant and helped them draft a comprehensive planting restoration plan. To ensure manageability, the project was divided into stages that would work well for Kathy and Dave.

The Carr’s were thrilled to receive a KMR planting grant, which will enable them to restore the vulnerable coastal margin and contribute to the preservation of the Kaipara Moana, a place they hold deep connections to. Their efforts are creating a legacy for the environment and future generations.

Katie Forno is the second Forest Bridge Trust Field Advisor. Katie has worked with the Trust for several years and has witnessed the farming and rural community endure tough times, especially with the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. However, the past year has provided Katie with the opportunity to assist landowners in refocusing on land restoration projects.

Katie has been working closely with Te Whio in Whangaripo Valley, a property that has been in the Petrie family since 1919 and is now managed as a Family Trust. The farm encompasses a diverse landscape, featuring steep hill country adorned with iconic waterfalls cascading down bluffs, as well as fertile flat land in the valley floor interwoven with wetlands and waterways that drain into the Kotekote Stream.

Te Whio has been dedicated to restoring its waterways over several years. Whether walking across the land or passing by on the main road, their ongoing efforts to fence and plant wetlands and main waterways serve as an inspiration to all.

In 2022, Te Whio partnered with The Forest Bridge Trust and KMR to complete the fencing of remaining waterways and wetlands on the flats, with ambitious plans to introduce plantings aimed at reducing streambank erosion, moderating water flow, and enhancing biodiversity. Looking ahead, their vision includes retiring the steepest hill country to allow for forest regeneration, mitigating the risk of land slipping and loss, and ensuring a healthy and resilient farm for generations to come.

Katie also works closely with Mataia Farm, a property that has been in the Gardener Family since 1868 and serves as a working sheep and beef farm alongside a significant private conservation project initiated in 1995. This farm boasts a diverse range of ecosystems and hosts rare native species, including kiwi. The vision of The Forest Bridge Trust Co-Founders Kevin and Gill Adshead is to transform Mataia into a functional working farm that generates income while concurrently restoring native bush and waterways to cultivate a healthy, flourishing, and resilient whenua (land).

As part of their ongoing restoration efforts to mitigate runoff into the Kaipara Harbour, Mataia Farm recently fenced off a tributary that drains into the Araparera River floodplains. With contributions from KMR and the enthusiastic participation of volunteers this April, they successfully planted this area. This initiative exemplifies Mataia Farm’s commitment to sustainable land management and restoration, showcasing the impact that collaborative efforts can have on enhancing environmental stewardship and biodiversity.

For more information on the grants available, visit www.kmr.org.nz/grants-funding.

If you are interested in learning more about fencing and planting grants and your waterways flow into the Kaipara Harbour, Katie and Angela would love to hear from you. Please email them at katie@theforestbridgetrust.org.nz and angela@theforestbridgetrust.org.nz