Project to restore habitat at Bendigo Wildlife Reserve

  • Otago
  • 5/08/2022
  • Bruce Quirey

Project to restore habitat at Bendigo Wildlife Reserve

Native planting has begun as part of work to improve habitat at an Otago Fish & Game-managed wildlife reserve in Central Otago.

The Bendigo Wildlife Reserve is a 158ha conservation area where the Clutha River/Mata-au enters Lake Dunstan.

The project aims to remove areas of mature willows and restore native plant species, creating better habitat for waterfowl game birds, fish and native bird species.

“Generations of families have enjoyed seasonal hunting of game birds in this reserve,” Otago Fish & Game officer Ben Sowry says.

“This is also a productive fishing area, and plans are afoot for a nearby cycle trail.”

Otago Fish and Game Council, which manages the reserve, has approved about $3400 in funding to launch the project.

Funding has come from diversion fees collected from fishing and game bird hunting offences.

“Money collected from offences is used entirely to improve habitat in wetlands and other waterways,” Mr Sowry says.

Fish & Game is seeking partners to contribute more funding and labour towards the project.

The project site was also chosen because it is close to a proposed new cycle trail.

Mr Sowry says over the years, willows have encroached on the island and channel areas, leading to a significant decline in open water that waterfowl use as loafing and feeding areas.

“We’re proposing to remove areas of mature willows choking out large areas of waterfowl habitat.

“This will also really improve fishing opportunities for anglers in the various channels.”

Fish & Game staff planted the first 40 native plants at the reserve this week. (Wednesday, August 3)

A mixture of tree species which once proliferated the area before human settlement has been selected for planting.

Species such as kanuka, kowhai, and manuka, as well as totara, silver beech and cabbage trees, will be planted in drier areas to create a canopy cover to deter willows.

Other plants, such as flax, will stablise the river bank, and a variety of other small species will be planted.



Cromwell-based Otago Fish & Game officer Ben Sowry plants native species at Bendigo Wildlife Reserve this week (Wednesday, August 3). PHOTO: PAUL VAN KLINK, OTAGO FISH & GAME

More Posts