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The vegetation of the Canterbury Plains including in the Selwyn District has been dramatically altered since the arrival of the first humans less then 1,000 years ago. The lowland plains and foothills are now dominated by introduced species which make up the 'productive' landscapes of pastoral farming, horticultural and forestry. Continued urban expansion has also reduced the habitat of our native species.

However many communities, private landowners and agencies are actively involved in the protection, management and restoration of native vegetation and wildlife both on public and private land. Many opportunities exist to incorporate native biodiversity into private farms, life style blocks, suburban gardens, and the surrounding local environment.

Native planting sites offer stepping stones and corridors for many species to travel across the landscape for food and breeding opportunities. Larger areas of planting create core habitat which can be vital for a native species survival. Protecting existing indigenous habitat patches and creating new ones is especially important in highly modified landscapes such as the Canterbury Plains. There is also the pleasure people get in seeing their native plantings grow and establish and the increase in native birdlife that it brings.

Waterway health can be improved by riparian planting. Planting along a waterway reduces the amount of nutrients and sediment entering the waterway. Shade created by the plantings reduces water temperatures and increases oxygen levels in the water benefiting aquatic wildlife such as invertebrates and fish. Shading also reduces the growth of macrophytes which can clog waterways and impede water movement.

Enhancing and protecting existing old growth native vegetation through weed control and fencing can be important for its long term survival. Establishing eco-sourced plants into shelter belts, riparian planting or incorporating natives into gardens add valuable food sources and habitat for native wildlife; including birds, lizards and invertebrates.

Selwyn District Council encourages and supports communities and landowners to carry out work that benefits our natural environment. If you want to know more about this please talk to our biodiversity team:

Andy Spanton, Biodiversity Coordinator Phone (03) 347-2907 or;

Denise Ford, Biodiversity Officer Phone (03) 347-2788 or;

contact us through biodiversity@selwyn.govt.nz.

The Selwyn Natural Environment Fund (SNEF) fund has helped many projects in the District over the last decade Here is an example of one such project:

Roosteration Project

The Roosteration Project was started in 2017 and so far 3,000 eco-sourced natives have been planted in a 0.6 ha block.  Nicki is planting an area of her lifestyle block that was previously pasture and used for grazing stock. The intention is to create a 2 ha forest which will recreate the original Canterbury Plains forest habitat.

Nicki's goal with the project is to:

  • restore native vegetation in Canterbury
  • create a core forest habitat for birds, insects and lizards
  • enhance the Canterbury landscape
  • inspire other lifestyle block owners to plant natives
  • learn about the process of restoration in our region
  • help the environment and community

Nicki has consulted with experts to get the right species mix for maximum survival of the plants. She is using a combination of weed control methods: including regular spraying, weed mats, mulch (such as woodchip and pea straw), mowing and manual weeding.

She is very hands on and is always looking for better ways to achieve optimum plant survival and to reduce herbicide usage. The plants are growing very well due to her considerable investment in time and the effort put into weed control, irrigation (when times are dry) and pest monitoring.

Nicki has approached the project as a learning experience, keeping records (spreadsheet and photo journal) of numbers and types of species planted, costs, problems encountered, rainfall etc. She uses this information gained to continually improve the outcomes of the project. The success of these plantings are very much a testament to Nicki's commitment and passion to the project.

We have supported Nicki through the SNEF fund and her plantings are listed as a Greendot through the Te Ara Kakariki Greenway Canterbury Trust.

Funding Options

The Selwyn Natural Environment Fund (SNEF) is open to our residents and ratepayers. Individuals or groups can apply to this fund for assistance with planting/weed control/predator control and fencing, and other projects which benefit native biodiversity in the our district.

The funds first priority is to protect existing Significant Natural Areas; these sites are those that have been identified by an ecological assessment as significant or potentially significant. The second priority is to assist in restoring, enhancing and protecting sites that are not yet deemed significant. This includes restoration planting and maintenance.

The fund is contestable (there is a capped amount allocated to the fund) and applications are assessed and approved once a year by a panel of Councillors. Applications are accepted throughout the year with the closing date being 5 pm on the last Friday of May. All applicants are notified of funding allocations mid-June.

Te Ara Kakariki through their Greendot programme work with private and public landowners to provide restoration planting plans, plants, advice, volunteer planters and monitoring for landowners in the Selwyn District.

There are a number of other funding options available to community groups and landowners:

World Wildlife Fund -  Community Conservation Fund

Department of Conservation - Community Fund – Pūtea Tautiaki Hapori

Environment Canterbury - Immediate Steps Programme

Trees that Count

One Billion Tree Fund

Planting Guides

Native plant communities of the Canterbury Plains [PDF, 2672 KB]

Planting to protect our waterways

Getting riparian planting right in Canterbury [PDF,]

Protecting and restoring our natural heritage: A practical guide [PDF,14,948 KB]

Weedbusters - Plant me instead booklets

Some planting and biodiversity management contractors:

Some nurseries (we recommend using ecosourced native plants):