Meridian and DOC mark 25 years of Project River Recovery with book launch

For 25 years Project River Recovery has protected and restored the diverse braided rivers of the upper Waitaki Basin.

These efforts are being marked this week with the release of a book recounting the journey of Project River Recovery and all that has been achieved along the way.

The award winning project is undertaken by the Department of Conservation, with funding and support from Meridian Energy, and more recently Genesis Energy, in response to impacts of the hydroelectric power scheme in the catchment.

Meridian Energy Environmental Strategy Manager Jeff Page says the scale of the conservation project is vast, covering 33,000 hectares of riverbed, 13 rivers and three large lakes.

“The area is home to about fifty threatened species of bird, fish, lizards, invertebrates and plants. We’re proud to collaborate with DOC on what is a significant project, ensuring our native wildlife and habitats are protected for generations to come,” says Mr Page.

Department of Conservation Senior Ranger Dean Nelson says the project is recognised nationally and internationally as a successful conservation management and research project.

“Milestone achievements across the project’s twenty-five years include establishing large-scale predator control operations to protect native bird species. This has resulted in increased hatching rates for birds that nest in the area, such as wrybill, black-fronted tern and banded dotterel.

“We’ve also enhanced the habitat of Kāki/black stilt, an endangered native bird that only breeds in the upper Waitaki. The kāki population has grown too, which is really pleasing to see.

“The project has also seen the construction and management of 80 hectares of wetlands and ongoing weed management across the catchment’s riverbeds,” says Mr Nelson.

Rivers Rare: The first 25 years of Project River Recovery 1991-2016 by Neville Peat details the project’s history and will be launched at a celebration in Twizel tomorrow.