No mowing trial successful

IMPROVEMENT: A no mowing trial to help improve whitebait spawning habitat has proved successful.

A no mowing trial along the banks of the Avon and Heathcote rivers has helped improve the whitebait spawning habitat.

The city council will now look at what else it can do to enhance the habitat for inanga – an endangered species of whitebait.

The trial has been running since October with sections of the banks left unmown. A survey done in April found it had been beneficial.

City council three waters and waste planning and delivery manager John Moore said staff would meet with the Ōpāwaho-Heathcote River Network next month to discuss options for habitat enhancement.

A budget had been allocated for restoration work, he said.

“We will be reviewing results of the trial in the next couple of months before making a decision about the next steps,” Mr Moore said.

He said that could include native plantings and providing a clear boundary for bank mowing in other areas.

The whitebaiting season opened on Tuesday. Last week activists called for whitebaiting to be banned for a year to allow the depleted population to recover.

The Department of Conservation said habitat loss was a key factor in the population decline.

Mr Moore said city council ecologists had asked Regenerate Christchurch to protect and enhance spawning habitat in the Ōtākaro/Avon River Corridor Regeneration Plan.