16 Mar 2013

Avon River plans up for discussion

11:42 am on 16 March 2013

Cantabrians are gathering to discuss ideas for breathing life back into red zoned communities next to Christchurch's Avon River.

The meeting has been organised by the Avon-Otakaro Network which is pushing for a reserve to be established along the banks of the river, complete with walking and cycling tracks.

The forum involves a wide range of groups and individuals including ecologists from Lincoln University who have been looking at the way abandoned red zone properties have gone back to nature.

They have found native trees and shrubs have flourished and helped to feed an increasing number of native birds.

However, introduced species such as gorse, broom and lupin are now starting to dominate and are threatening to overtake the natives.

Other experts are talking about the need for wetlands to be established to help filter run-off from city streets and improve the water quality of the river.

There will also be calls for a fenced off sanctuary for endangered native birds.

Avon-Otakaro Network co-chair Evan Smith, says one of the anchor projects for the river park is an eco-santuary for rare, native birds like kiwi, weka and takahe.

Mr Smith says the group is in discussions with the council and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority about acquiring the land and hopes some of the projects will be completed by the end of the year.