1 great way to pro­tect wa­ter & im­prove your block’s value

It’s an in­vest­ment in some­thing beau­ti­ful and it works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for­ever.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - WORDS ABBY MATTHEWS

This project is an in­vest­ment in some­thing beau­ti­ful, for the fu­ture, and is on on the job 24-7.

Ri­par­ian zones (or mar­gins) are ar­eas of land next to drains, small streams or rivers, and sur­round­ing lakes. Plant­ing and man­ag­ing these ar­eas, helps to pro­tect their nat­u­ral habi­tat and en­hance wa­ter qual­ity, the home to nu­mer­ous na­tive fish, birds and in­sects. If well-de­signed and man­aged, they can be a valu­able as­set for your farm and look great too.

One of the key chal­lenges is man­ag­ing nu­tri­ents in our rivers, lakes and es­tu­ar­ies. Bac­te­ria and nu­tri­ents (ni­tro­gen and phos­pho­rus) make their way into wa­ter­ways through run-off and dis­charges, and can also be trans­ported through soil and ground­wa­ter.

Ri­par­ian plant­ing alone is un­likely to re­move all nu­tri­ents, but it is an im­por­tant part of your man­age­ment tool­box.

3 ben­e­fits of plant­ing around wa­ter­ways

Gen­er­ally, nu­tri­ents have the great­est im­pact dur­ing sum­mer when river flows are low and nu­tri­ent con­cen­tra­tions are high. Sun­light, warmer tem­per­a­tures, slower flow and nu­tri­ent-rich wa­ter re­duce the habi­tat avail­able to in­sects and fish species that pre­fer cooler, clean, fast-mov­ing wa­ter. These con­di­tions also pro­mote the growth of nui­sance al­gae which can smother gravel-bed rivers and streams and con­trib­ute to al­gal growth.

A well-de­signed ri­par­ian mar­gin has a mul­ti­tude of ben­e­fits:

• plant­ing cre­ates shade and shel­ter for fish and in­sects, moder­at­ing wa­ter tem­per­a­ture;

• it re­duces ero­sion by slow­ing run-off, sta­bil­is­ing banks and trap­ping sed­i­ment, which can help with flood con­trol and im­prove wa­ter clar­ity;

• min­imis­ing sed­i­ment also re­duces phos­pho­rus, ben­e­fit­ting our wa­ter­ways by lim­it­ing the growth of nui­sance al­gae, im­prov­ing habi­tat for aquatic life and mak­ing our wa­ter­ways more pleas­ant for swim­ming and fishing.

Flow-on ben­e­fits in­clude re­duced costs as­so­ci­ated with drain clear­ing, and wa­ter fil­tra­tion and treat­ment.

Why good plan­ning saves you money

To get the most out of your ri­par­ian

plant­ing, it’s best to do your re­search be­fore you pull out the credit card. Plan­ning should cover ev­ery­thing from de­sign right through to fenc­ing, plant se­lec­tion, weed con­trol and main­te­nance.

Your lo­cal coun­cil may have rules about work that can and can­not be done near a water­way, par­tic­u­larly if you are in a flood con­trol or drainage scheme area. Seek ad­vice be­fore un­der­tak­ing any work as this can save you time and money in the long run.

Give con­sid­er­a­tion to lo­cal con­di­tions when plan­ning your ri­par­ian plant­ing. This in­cludes ex­po­sure of plant­ings to high winds, sea spray and frost, and whether the area is prone to pe­ri­ods of drought or flood­ing. Nat­u­ral con­di­tion of the soil will also deter­mine op­ti­mal plant se­lec­tion.

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