AGM and special work party

Project Rameka Chair’s Report – May 2011

Because of your valuable volunteer work and donations and membership fees, Project Rameka has continued to achieve its forest restoration and recreation goals. The trees are flourishing, tracks are being walked and ridden and soon a major new section of track will be open. This is all the result of your support.

The following report briefly summarises the achievements of the last year.
Project Rameka has unexpectedly become a strong hub of track building activity over the last year, with the Department of Conservation and the Golden Bay Mountain Bike Club focusing on Canaan Downs and a new section of the historic Rameka Trail above Project Rameka, and a new single track beside Rameka Creek being built below the project. We have decided to link Great Expectations to this lower track at what is known as the Mill Site – a grassy clearing beside the road, near the Rameka Creek ford.

There have been many volunteers working on Great Expectations over summer. Ricky Ward has been designing the trail and Martin Langley has led dozens of work parties. On behalf of everyone who will ride the track, I’d like to thank these two stalwarts, and all those who have joined them over the last twelve months. Great Expectations is nearing the creek and has been built to a very high standard. To complete this section of track there will be three special Saturday work parties, the first being on the 28th May.

SPECIAL work party notice. Please meet at the old Mill Site clearing at 10am on Sat morning after the AGM (28 May). Tools and chocolate will be supplied, and there will be a whole range of jobs from pruning vegetation, to digging the track, and building a ford crossing. We will have a BBQ at the Mill Site and then do another two hours in the afternoon. I will be leading this work party in partnership with Ricky Ward.

We will have another two Saturday morning work parties before officially opening the track in October 2011.

Future plans include maintaining Great Expectations, extending it up to the top corner boundary to meet the original Rameka Trail, which is being reopened, and building an advanced level track (The Odyssey) to make a loop ride possible.

Maintenance will be a big issue on the tracks, both in terms of removing ruts as they develop, and also cutting back vegetation that encroaches on the track. Most of the vegetation control over the last year has been done by the very efficient Matt Shoult who is paid a minimal wage from your donations. Thank you.

Various volunteers have also been removing ruts and clearing fallen pine trees and widening some of the existing track. This crucial work is much appreciated.

Visitors to Project Rameka have commented on the usefulness of the new signboards and maps. Many thanks to Chloe Langley for the design and Nikki Ryan (Harcourts) for funding the materials.

Thanks should also go to the Pub Charities for their generous grant, which has paid for $1000 of new tools (bought locally).

Pest Control
Once again Matt Shoult has done an outstanding job of hammering pest animals and plants. Without this work the restoration of the forest would be held back by introduced animals that eat plants, and kill birds.

This year, we have been using Pestoff possum bait (Brodificoum, which is an anticoagulant), and it has been very effective. Matt believes the possum numbers have been lower than ever. This poison also kills rats.

Pigs have been an ongoing problem and will require further hunting. They damage both trees and tracks.

Stoats also need to be controlled, and to make this easier Andrew McLellan and I will soon be reconfiguring the stoat trapping line to make checking them one continuous and enjoyable walk (or ride if you are really keen). Would you like to adopt this new stoat line? If so, please contact me at the AGM.

A big thanks to those from Golden Bay, Nelson and Wellington who have weeded the 2000+ seedlings on Project Rameka. This job has become much easier now that we are using tree guards, but it is still very important work. Many of the trees planted in 2009 and 2010 are now over 1 metre high and won’t need further weeding, but of course we will plant more trees this winter.

Matt Shoult has also dealt to a number of highly invasive weeds such as banana passionfruit and old man’s beard. Please keep an eye out for these weeds and let us know if you spot them.

Climate Change and the Trust
The foundation concept for Project Rameka was to set up a forest carbon sink. It is the most effective way of fighting climate change that Bronnie Wall and I can think of. Until scientific leaders withdraw their warnings about climate change we will continue supporting ways to reduce atmospheric CO2.

The property is now registered as a Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI), run by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MaF). This scheme provides the Rameka Trust with funds for rates and other property related expenses.

The amount of CO2 sequestered from the atmosphere by Project Rameka is around 500 tonnes per annum. However, there is also pollution associated with the project that we would like to keep to a minimum, by encouraging people to:

· travel by land to the project, rather than flying to Nelson or Takaka,
· cycle or walk up Rameka Creek Road rather than shuttling,
· purchase local goods from local businesses wherever possible.

Native Forest Restoration
600 trees were planted last winter (August 2010) and these had plant guards put around them. The result is an exceptional survival rate (over 95%).

Volunteers from Wellington and Golden Bay were joined by students from Golden Bay High School and Motupipi Primary School. This made the tree planting experience both frantic and fun.

For donations contributing to purchase of trees, we would like to thank Dean Waters of the Balance of Life Trust (BOLT).

Also, special thanks to Fill and Albie Burgers who organised a work party to pot up 500 totara seedlings collected from bush on their property, and to Sollys for gifting the potting mix needed. These healthy seedlings will be planted out in August.

· As always, we are looking for donations of flax and other native plants to be dug out of people’s backyards.

We will also be purchasing plants from local nurseries this winter, the cost of which will be covered by the Rameka Trust.

Volunteer Accommodation
The Lorax Lair has continued to be used by Project Rameka members as a base for volunteer work and for that reason there have been a few improvements made in the last year, including:
· building a lean-too shelter for storing bikes etc
· installing a kitchen sink and cupboards (thanks Ricky Ward, Martin Langley and John Michell)
· building a wood shed
· installing a new water tank.
If you would like to use the Lorax Lair, please contact Martin, Andrew or myself for a gate and hut key. There is no charge, as long as you intend doing a few hours work on the project.
I would like to thank everyone on the committee, especially those with two crucial roles. Marie Langley has again been a super secretary, and the committee has appreciated her ability to keep moving things along smoothly. Likewise, Seamus Ryan has been invaluable in keeping the Project Rameka books straight. Every donation and membership fee has been used with the utmost care and consideration.

Also, a special thanks to out-going committee member Patrick Ward. Patrick has not only contributed a huge amount to the track building effort, he has also mustered a group of tree planters from Golden Bay High School for the previous two years, and he has a wicked sense of humour. I wish him all the best with his future in Christchurch.

Patrick Ward on Great Expectations

To everyone who has been involved in whatever form, on behalf of Project Rameka, I thank you and hope to see you on the project soon: Saturday the 28th would be good J.

Other Special News
Last year Project Rameka featured as a case study in a book I co-authored with Paul Kennett, Simon Johnson and Tom Bennion called The Carbon Forest. It is a guidebook for those wishing to set up carbon sinks, and explains recent legislation enacted to incentivise forest restoration in New Zealand.

Perhaps the best news of the year was the purchase by Phil Castle and Beth Burdett of a 50 hectare block of land near Motupipi. Phil and Beth’s primary goals are also forest restoration and recreation. They have been great supporters of Project Rameka, and I have become one of their trustees to help them realise their dream.

Once again, thanks for your support. We are looking forward to another brilliant year at Project Rameka.

Jonathan Kennett
Project Rameka Incorporated Chair

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