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Conservation Volunteers Working Hard at CUE Haven–February 7-11, 2011

February 13, 2011

You might think that because most of our news happens during the winter planting season, that summers are fairly quiet at CUE Haven.

Not at all!

Summertime is weed season, so we are busy weeding, spraying and releasing plants.  And there are loads of maintenance projects as well.

To help us out, this past week, we had 8 young adults from Conservation Volunteers  stay at CUE Haven from Monday, 7 Feb 2011 through Friday, 11 Feb 2011 to work on a variety of projects.

Our team consisted of John Busson, the NZ team leader, Tamara & Kolja from Germany, David from Switzerland and Ju Hee, Joo Yeon, Ji Yong and Changok from Korea.  Their visit to CUE Haven was funded by a grant from the Fonterra Catchment Care programme.

We had previously provided Conservation Volunteers with a list of projects we hoped the volunteers could help us with.  John used to be a park ranger with the Auckland Regional Council and thanks to his experience and leadership and the enthusiasm of the volunteers, we got all of those projects and some not on the list completed!

After an orientation and early lunch, the team went to work assisting with the creation of the first walking track at CUE Haven.

Our long range plan is to have a network of tracks through the bush so that visitors in the future can hike and enjoy the forest. Our first track borders wetlands and the CV team tackled the challenging project of removing any native trees from the path of the track.  The track was routed around mature trees, but trees small enough to move were relocated to the wetlands.

That job took most of two days and was a major undertaking in record heat and humidity.

The next task was to help out with rehabilitation of the wetlands.  There are five ponds at CUE Haven and since they are no longer being used as a water source for cattle, they have become stagnant and are filling up with algae and other invasive plants.  In order to rejuvenate the ponds, the volunteers planted Carex and native rushes by the edges to improve the water quality in the ponds.  The ponds are located in the wetlands and this area is quite inaccessible during our normal planting season in winter as the area is under water.  Summer, when the water levels are down, is the perfect time to be able to work around the banks of the ponds. Even so, it was a very messy task, and there is always the risk of a nasty drenching, but the volunteers completed the job with no complaints and nothing worse than muddy boots.

Over the course of the week, the volunteers also worked on a variety of other tasks including weed control in a number of planted areas, mulching selected trees, assisting in the construction of a boardwalk in the walking track and a retaining wall around the nursery water tank, and replacing the metal waratahs around the old memorial trees with more aesthetically appealing wooden stakes.

The last project the team handled was to take a walk through the mature bush area and collect seeds from a variety of trees.  The seeds will be stored and propagated for planting when they have germinated and grown.  It was a great end to the week because it gave the team a chance to explore some of the most interesting bush areas of CUE Haven and learn about New Zealand native vegetation.  The trees that grow up from the seeds will be a lasting contribution by team.

We only had one casualty in the course of the week.  David, got stung by a wasp, but it didn’t significantly slow him down!

And it wasn’t all hard work!

CUE Haven looks even more beautiful now that the volunteers have helped us with so many projects and we very much appreciate all of their efforts, the invaluable leadership and advice from team leader, John, the support of the Conservation Volunteers organisation, and of course the generous assistance of the Fonterra Catchment Care programme. We would also like to acknowledge and thank Treescape for most generously donating a truck load of mulch which was used during the week.

For more pictures, check out the Conservation Volunteers Facebook page.

We look forward to having more groups from Conservation Volunteers assist us with planting this winter.

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