Swannanoa students help restore Burgess Stream

Swannanoa School students planted hundreds of native seedlings in December 2021 as part of the Burgess Stream restoration project in Eyreton, North Canterbury.

A biodiversity project at Burgess Stream near Eyreton received a helping hand from around 20 Swannanoa School students who planted 394 native seedlings during a planting day late last year.

Once planting is completed the site will contain 4500 native plants which will improve biodiversity values by enhancing the riparian margin of the stream and protecting the adjacent springhead.

The initiative is a joint project between Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL), Environment Canterbury and WIL shareholder and landowners Andrew and Peter Gilchrist.

Biodiversity project lead Dan Cameron says it was wonderful to hear the group of students commenting, “we’re saving the planet and it’s fun,” as they planted their seedlings alongside the stream.

Dan visited the year 5 to 8 students prior to the planting day to introduce them to the native plants and to explain the biodiversity values of the project.

“Learning about the importance of protecting this site and what lives in the stream provides good context ahead of the practical planting day which helps students connect to the “why” of what they are doing.

“When kids have fun doing restoration work, they know they can do something meaningful for the environment and this creates hope for a brighter future. It also becomes their new normal and something they will take responsibility for in the future.”

Dan says the students are already planning a return visit to the site to monitor their planting work and to learn more about the biodiversity values of the area.

“They are really invested in the project now and want to stay involved as it progresses.”

He describes the connections made between the landowner Andy Gilchrist and the students as another important aspect of the project.

“Getting both groups involved and working together helps to build understanding of the good work many landowners are doing to improve the natural values present on their farms.

“Seeing the enthusiasm and passion that the students have for the environment inspires landowners to keep progressing towards their goals. They can see that what they are doing is having a positive impact on the next generation.”