Lizard sanctuary in Ferrymead

McCanns Skinks are being set up with a special new home for lizards in Ferrymead.

Lizards should feel right at home in a new sanctuary within Ferrymead Park.

To encourage biodiversity in a river zone, the Heathcote-Opawaho Lizard Sanctuary is being developed alongside the lower Heathcote River.

North Canterbury Forest & Bird and the city council parks unit have signed a memorandum of understanding enabling the development.

City council parks ranger Pieter Borcherds said the new agreement builds on a successful relationship with the adjacent Calder Green Reserve.

“It also signals a strong commitment to working in an important estuarine ecosystem.”

It is hoped that the specially designed habitat will encourage more lizards to settle next to the riverside walkway from Ferrymead Heritage Park to the Tunnel Rd bridge in Woolston.

The planned low-growing plants and rock piles will add to the local biodiversity by providing both food sources and shelter from predators.

Work on the sanctuary got under way on Sunday with a community planting day.

The project will feature signage that encourages planting of trees and scrubs which enhance the habitat for native birds and lizards.

Calder Green Reserve manager Mick Ingram said the sanctuary targets the protection and enhancement of indigenous flora and fauna through ongoing “restoration planting” by the river.