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Oases of nature created by unsung restoration heroes

Our communities are much the richer thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers who spend many hours - week in and week out - restoring and maintaining natural areas. One such area, only a 10 minute walk from where I live, is Greendale Reserve - one of the Kapiti Coast's best kept secrets.

The 3.5 hectare reserve was created as a reserve contribution in 1994 when farmland between Otaihanga Road and Waikanae River was subdivided for lifestyle blocks. Comprised of river flats and duneland, the reserve follows the Muaupoko Stream, which flows into the Waikanae River further to the west.

Seeing an opportunity to restore this long-neglected stream and surrounding land, Phil Palmer, who with his wife lived on a property overlooking the reserve, approached the Council about a project to restore it. The Council responded by offering it as a project to the Kapi-Mana branch of Forest & Bird, of which Phil and Viola [pictured] were members. Since then, they have tirelessly coordinated the restoration project, centred around an isolated grove of kahikatea and other podocarp trees, ever since.

Now in their 80s, the pair are understandably proud of what they and the other volunteers have achieved, but concerned about the future of the reserve - who will take care of it when they and their fellow-volunteers are no longer able to? This - the issue of succession and the future stewardship of areas of reserve land that have been restored by volunteers over the past one or two decades - is a concern for many of the environmental restoration groups scattered around the district.

I for one am deeply grateful for their work and the way it has enriched our environment for the better - I always find a walk there good for the body and the soul. As well as the stream-side track, the Greendale Reserve features a tranquil little loop walk through the restored bush, complete with two weta hotels which never lose the power to surprise. The reserve is full of birdlife (last time I spied a black fantail - as pictured) and the understory rich with ferns, seedlings, and fungi and lichen of various kinds - a sign that its health is steadily being restored through careful stewardship.

See also: Greendale Reserve on Forest & Bird website

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