An increasing incidence of extreme weather events.
That is the climate scientist way of saying, “More superstorms, more record floods, more record droughts.” Worldwide the repair costs will run into the trillions. Building more stop banks, levies, dykes and other flood protection will be expensive and ultimately ineffective.
Research shows the best way to mitigate severe flooding is to hold back water from large rivers during major rainfall events. This is done by taking a holistic approach to watershed (catchment) management, which includes these specific actions: replanting trees on steep overgrazed hillsides; restoring degraded wetlands; and, protecting riparian (stream-side) corridors. Other benefits of these actions include improved water quality and increased biological diversity.
A history of less-than-ideal farming and land management practices makes the Whanganui District and Whanganui city particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events such as last year’s flood, which caused thousands of slips district wide, severe erosion and record flooding. We will see more of the same and even worse in the decades to come, and the repair bills will cost rate payers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Ultimately it would be cheaper to take the steps described above than to do nothing and accept the devastation and massive costs of clean up and repair. It is a case of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Last year our tiny stream burst its banks and carried cubic meters of soil off into the Whanganui River and on to the Tasman Sea.
This historic wetland was nothing but a drainage channel during the floods.
So we have decided to take direct action to address the effects of climate change in our community. We have initiated the Purua Stream Restoration Project to serve as a model of private-public-community partnership. The vision of the Project is to protect the entire stream by working with landowners, community members and Horizons Regional Council to fence it off and plant tens of thousands of native trees, grasses and wetland plants.
We have started the process on our property.
Stage One at Kaitiaki Farm has involved fencing off an acre of land and planting 800 – 1,000 natives. The entire bend in the stream in the photo below has been protected.
After spending six weekends to build a stock proof fence, two working bees have involved the Whanganui community, planting the stream sides…
…and the higher banks.
Horizons Regional Council has excellent programmes that help defer the costs of fencing and provide plants grown at the Kaitoke Prison nursery.
Additionally, we have had over 800 more plants donated so far.
Stage One is nearly complete and we’re keen to proceed with Stage Two, which will involve fencing off another 1 and 1/2 acres and planting 1,000 native plants.
Stage Three will involve working with landowners up and down the stream.
Stage Four will involve replicating this model of private-public-community partnership throughout the entire Whanganui catchment.
If you are concerned about the direct effects of climate change on our community and want to get involved, grab a spade, dig a post hole, plant a tree. We can make a difference here and now, and for the future.
Get involved today. Email: crew.whanganui at gmail dot com