The environmental aim of the Advocates for the Tongariro River Inc is to restore the riparian strip of the lower Tongariro River on DOC land from State Highway 1 Bridge upstream to the Whitikau stream, to indigenous vegetation. The Society envisions the Tongariro River corridor being returned as close as possible to its natural state so that the river valley's landscape values and its biodiversity status are restored.
The project to eliminate pines started several years ago with poisoning in DOC reserves. The work has now moved upstream. The wilding pine project began in 2005. The matter was discussed with DOC and others. At the end of 2006 the group submitted applications for funding and received some grants. The Advocates employed a person to carry out poisoning of pine trees. The Advocates were unable to poison trees near exisitng tracks or ones that would fall into the river or onto neighbouring property, so work on felling trees has begun.
The Advocates have been involved in a planting programme on the left bank of the river, with Turangi. This has involved slashing and clearing weeds including cotoneaster, buddleia and blackberry. The Corrections Department were involved in the first year and last year Community Probation did a major clearance.
All the weed removal has been followed up with planting. Tongariro River Advocates planted some 600 native platns in the first planting of 2008 and about 1000 native plants on the riverbank in 2009. During the summer the group has worked to ensure the survival of the young plants through the hot summer weather and have kept weed growth checked to allow plants to grow.
Further tree felling is underway at present and 3000 natives will be planted during winter 2010.
The next stages in the project are:
1) Eradicating wilding pines on government and private land along tracks, river margins and boundaries.
2) Developing a programme to inhibit the re-establishment of juvenile wilding oines in the treated areas.
The Advocates are working to get scientific observation of treated areas carried out so that an overall measure of the effectiveness of the project can be gained.
The Advocates have forged partnerships with DOC and Environment Waikato which set out the working realtionship of clearing exotic trees and plants and follow up planting with natives. The group worked under the guidance of DOC throughout in both dealing with the wilding pines and in ground preparation, selection of plants and planting.