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Ōkārito Native Plants Trust: Restoring Nature Sustainably One Plant at a Time

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Nature Restoration Planting Trees At Okarito New Zealand

The Remarkable Journey of the Ōkārito Native Plants Trust

In the heart of New Zealand's Ōkārito, a remarkable journey of conservation unfolds. Around three decades ago, Dr. Anne Hall, a devoted resident, was moved to action by the illegal clearing of native bush near the Ōkārito Lagoon by a developer who wanted to build a restaurant. This event was incredibly influential in the birth of the Ōkārito Native Plants Nursery, a staunch defender of the region's precious waterways and wetlands - as without the nurturing of these vital components of nature, nothing can truly thrive (including humans). Today, the nursery is part of the larger Ōkārito Native Plants Trust, a testament to the enduring commitment to restoring nature sustainably one plant at a time.

The Glaciers to Wetlands Restoration Project

The Glaciers to Wetlands Restoration Project, initiated in 2010, marked the beginning of a concerted effort to protect and restore the kahikatea swamp around Lake Wahapo. Through this project, the Ōkārito Native Plants Nursery propagated native plants, rallied community volunteers, and raised awareness about wetland conservation. When the initial funding ended in 2014, the Ōkārito Community Association (OCA) and the Department of Conservation (DoC) entered into a management contract, ensuring that the crucial work of the nursery continued.

The Ōkārito Nursery's Restoration of the Matata Walkway

Ecological Restoration Project Tree Planting Amidst Flax West Coast New Zealand

The restoration of the Matata walkway became one of the Ōkārito Nursery's first independent planting project. This land, once thriving with native bush, was unlawfully cleared in the '90s, leaving a barren, gorse-infested landscape. The Ōkārito Nursery seized the opportunity to revive the area. Their meticulous approach involved gradual gorse removal and the planting of native species in its place. This method nurtured the growth of native plants, using the remaining gorse as a natural nursery.

Environmental Preservation Conservation Efforts Okarito Lagoon Planting Native Trees

After a decade of diligent work, the Matata walkway was completed, featuring a beautifully carved native bench seat dedicated to Dr. Anne Hall. Known for her courageous attempt to halt the digger that was clearing the native bush, Dr. Hall's legacy lives on through this walkway, serving as an inspiration for conservationists and visitors alike.

The Birth of the Ōkārito Native Plants Trust

In 2022, the Ōkārito Native Plants Trust restructured its operations, creating two distinct divisions: The Ōkārito Plant Nursery and the Ōkārito Plant Project. This strategic restructuring aimed to efficiently use resources and implement the necessary work to achieve the trust's mission of preserving the native flora and fauna of the region.

The Ōkārito Native Plants Trust is currently working on a second walkway around the top end of the village along the lagoon edge. The Jobs for Nature funding received during the Covid pandemic has been instrumental in supporting this project. Locally grown plants from the nursery are being used, and local school children are actively participating in the planting process. This hands-on approach is not only creating tangible results but also fostering a deep-rooted appreciation for nature among the younger generation.

Okarito Lagoon New Zealand Conservation

New Zealand Conservation & Sustainability

The Ōkārito Native Plants Trust is a shining example of how local initiatives can bring about significant sustainable change. By preserving the natural beauty of Ōkārito and educating the community about conservation, the trust continues to inspire a global audience of conservationists and businesses interested in sustainable practices. If you are interested in becoming a memeber of the Ōkārito Plant Project or making a donation click here.

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